It’s easy to understand why there is a lot of hype and expectation around Marcus Mariota.
Three years of starting experience.
A 105-to-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Two Rose Bowl victories.
A Heisman trophy.
The young quarterback is one of the best to come out of college in the past few years. He’s clean-cut, competitive and physically gifted in every key category from mobility to arm strength. However, his background in a spread offensive system has made it difficult to project where he fits best heading into the 2015 NFL Draft.
Here are some teams to ponder.
If one is talking about pure fit in terms of coach and scheme, the Philadelphia Eagles win by a landslide. Chip Kelly was head coach at Oregon before coming to the pros. He was the one who recruited and developed Mariota as a freshman. His offense is the exact same one still used by the Ducks and is what has made Mariota a Heisman trophy winner.
If the Eagles were to get him he would be able to start right away and understand almost all the intricacies of the offense without issue. The problem is Philadelphia sits way back at 20th, which means they’d likely have to pay a kings’ ransom to get him. Signs indicate they are willing, but that all depends on how far they have to go up.
This may seem odd at first. After all, the Chicago Bears still have Jay Cutler and their head coach is John Fox, a veteran steeped in a defensive tradition. However, one must remember that Fox, along with help from Adam Gase, managed to make Tim Tebow a viable starter back in 2011 when the Denver Broncos won the AFC West.
Gase has a reputation for being a creative play-caller who can mold the offense to fit what his players do best. As for Cutler, there are some who still think he deserves to be the starter; but with only one playoff appearance in six seasons, most are fed up with his underachieving ways. Bringing in a talented, proven winner like Mariota could give them a fresh start.
Kansas City Chiefs
Few coaches have had more success at the quarterback position than Andy Reid. During a long and decorated career he has turned the likes of Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia, Michael Vick and Alex Smith into Pro Bowlers. All of those names have similar skills in common with Mariota: size, mobility, a good arm, and intelligence.
There is no reason to think Reid couldn’t work the same magic on the Oregon product.
Conversely, Mariota represents that upgrade the Kansas City Chiefs need at quarterback. Smith has been a terrific help to the team, but his limited capabilities as a passer is holding back what many feel is a championship-ready team. Mariota has what they need. Whether they can get him from their #18 spot is another story.
In truth, it’s difficult to see Marcus Mariota dropping out of the top-10, even the top-5 at this point. Philadelphia is a real threat to trade up but it comes down to how much they’re willing to pay. As of now, their biggest threats are the Titans and Jets for his services — however, don’t sleep on Chicago.