Some of the biggest news leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft came from the Oregon Ducks as QB Marcus Mariota decided to stay in school for another season. While many believed that it was a smart move at the time considering the buzz of other quarterbacks, the decision should be re-analyzed due to the apparent rising/falling of draft stocks.
Mariota was projected to be a potential top-5 pick after a monster 2013 season, but the 20-year-old decided to stay in school to have another year in front of the fans at Oregon. The talks surrounding Mariota were very high, and it appeared that NFL teams were visibly disappointed that Mariota decided to forgo the draft. That decision left the draft class with some strong players, but it appears that Mariota would have had a shot to be taken within the first three picks.
Teddy Bridgewater is still looked at by many as the top passer in this class, but his draft projections have gone down, leaving many to project that he’ll fall deep into the first round.
Johnny Manziel will always have buzz surrounding him, but there has to be concern with whatever team selects him. Will he keep himself together off the field? Can he secure the ball without turning it over? Many questions can and will surround Manziel leading up to draft day.
It now appears that Blake Bortles is the candidate to watch. While he’s unproven in some areas, many believe he’ll be the first quarterback taken, possibly by the Houston Texans with the first-overall pick. There’s always the possibility however that Bortles will fall on May 8th as well. He isn’t as polished as Bridgewater in the passing game and he had several questionable performances in 2013 (see South Carolina, Memphis and South Florida games).
If Mariota, a guy who absolutely dominated his competition in 2013, would have declared for the draft, he might have leapfrogged everyone else and jumped to the top of many team’s draft boards. Looking back on the decision, it surely was an interesting one. Despite Mariota’s interest in staying in school (certainly a respectable move), added pressure will be brought on next season.
If he lacks the type of play that he had in his redshirt sophomore season, the decision might be one of the most scrutinized in recent history.