2015 NFL Draft: The Risk of Drafting Marcus Mariota


Nov 8, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) runs with the ball during the first half against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

In every draft every player taken comes with a risk.  Even players seen as a sure things can have something about them that’s a detriment to them succeeding as an NFL player.  So the team that drafts them needs to determine if the reward of drafting the player is worth the risk.

The Risk

There is talk of teams wanting to trade up in order to draft Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.  The Tennessee Titans currently have the second pick in the draft and may or may not use to take Marcus Mariota.

But one of the risks with Marcus Mariota as an NFL prospect is he comes from Oregon’s uptempo spread offense.  And many quarterbacks produced from similar offenses have not seen much sustained success in the NFL.

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Quarterbacks in those offenses aren’t required to operate from under center, they don’t have to call plays in the huddle and they don’t read defenses anywhere near the necessity of the NFL.  Also, they can’t run the football as much in the NFL as in college because they’ll get banged up.

I know Russell Wilson ran the ball a lot in Seattle last season, but I doubt he’ll be able to sustain that over the course of multiple seasons.  So there is an unknown with Marcus Mariota as to whether he’ll be able to make the transition into an NFL pocket passer.

Similar highly drafted quarterbacks have struggled with this to include Robert Griffin III, Geno Smith and Blaine Gabbert.  The NFL is almost a totally different game for quarterbacks than in college.

We’ve seen other college quarterbacks tear up PAC-12 defenses passing for big yardage, only to be exposed in the NFL.  College defenses don’t have the elite talent that exists in the NFL, where players not only play fast but they think fast as well.

All quarterbacks who come into the NFL need time to develop and Marcus Mariota is no different.  But it seems as though these up-tempo spread offenses have a way of making a quarterback appear to be better than he really is, because the system doesn’t require a quarterback to think too much.

A team would have to draft him on blind faith, hoping that he can adapt to this.  But what if he never does?  There’s still a chance that Robert Griffin III will become a great passer in the NFL but if he doesn’t, then all that the Redskins risked on him will have been for naught.

It wouldn’t be that big of a risk for the Tennessee Titans because they need a quarterback and Mariota is highly rated.  However, for a team trading up to number to take him, the risk is huge.  You give up other high round picks that can’t be made up for it the quarterback doesn’t develop.

A team could end up either mortgaging their future and setting back the team, or landing a franchise quarterback for the next ten years.  It will interesting to see how it plays out.

Next – 2015 NFL Draft: The Reward of Drafting Marcus Mariota

Next: The Risk of Drafting Jameis Winston

Next: How would Marcus Mariota Fit with the Redskins?