Every time Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Robert Griffin III lead a touchdown drive, Marcus Mariota's draft stock goes up.
Every time Michael Vick makes another bad decision, it goes up again.
Mariota's stock would be high anyway. He's 6-4, 212 and can run a 4.5 40. He's smart, modest, and a hard worker. He gets the ball out of his hands quickly and makes good decisions. 15-1 as a starter, he's thrown 39 td passes with 6 interceptions, just 1 interception in his last 10 games.
The draft experts place Mariota in the first round if he decides to come out next spring. ESPN's Todd McShay ranks Mariota in his top 32, at 23rd. CBS.com ranks him 7th overall, saying his strengths are "effortless arm strength to zip the ball up and down the field and his gazelle-like athleticism to out-run defenders."
Bucky Brooks of nfl.com places Oregon's Heisman Trophy frontrunner as the second-best draft-eligible dual threat quarterback as a pro prospect, behind Johnny Manziel and ahead of Tajh Boyd. Nfldraftscout.com has Mariota 2nd in his 2016 draft class. Daniel Jeremiah of nfl.com compares him to Kaepernick, saying the Oregon qb has "a huge upside" but needs to work on his footwork and lacks the 49er All-Pro's arm strength.
If Mariota decided to declare for the draft in January, he'd be taken in the first round. According to the National Football Post, the 21st player selected in last year's draft, tight end Tyler Eifert of the Cincinnati Bengals was projected for a 4-year deal worth $8.2 million, with a $4.3 million signing bonus. Guard Chance Warmack, picked 10th by the Titans, was estimated to make $7.6 million this season, including a signing bonus of $7.2 million. According to Joel Corry of the NFP, "The entire deals of the first half of the first round were fully guaranteed in 2012."
Marcus would be able to fly home more often. He could reward his parents for raising him so well.
The quarterback has been asked about the Heisman and the NFL a thousand times. He invariably says that he's focused on the season and he'll evaluate that with his family when the time comes.
Whether Mariota is ready or not, the pros want him now, and the draft stock and the money will only go up if he stays healthy and continues to perform the way he has over his first 16 games. He has a good rhythm right now and a favorable matchup this Saturday. Momentum is likely to build for his Heisman campaign. Already he's ranked first in several straw polls, and the added attention only increases his marketability as a pro prospect.
He could leave after this year, and the arguments to do so start with the risk of getting hurt like Dennis Dixon did or having a subpar season that lowers his draft stock the way it did with Matt Barkley. In terms of getting drafted early and getting the money, Marcus Mariota is ready for the NFL right now. Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd and Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr could also be available in this draft, but Mariota's early evaluations and projections clearly give the go sign: he will get paid.
Whether he should, however, is a more complicated equation. Mariota seems like one of those guys who enjoys the college experience, much in the way Andrew Luck did in electing to stay for his junior season. His footwork and accuracy can continue to improve, and he's getting excellent coaching and exposure at Oregon. He needs to get stronger and fill out his frame a little, and Oregon has one of the best training staffs and weight rooms in the country.
But the critical factor is his makeup and development as a leader. Teammates like Mariota as a college quarterback because he's modest, soft-spoken and shares credit. The NFL is a hard, mercenary game. There are five times as many microphones and 10 times more scrutiny. Mariota, great as he is as a college player and as beloved as he is as a Duck, will have a much better chance of succeeding as an NFL quarterback if he stays in school for another season. He'll have the opportunity to grow in confidence and comfort with the spotlight. He needs that.
One point about Manzell's NFL draft stock: He spent all last year's off season telling everyone he was just a wild college kid. He also did a good job of proving it. If he declares for the draft after this season, how is he going to convince NFL GMs and coaches that he is now a man and ready to lead a pro team to the Super Bowl?
I think we need to see how THIS season pans out -- although Marcus has the raw talent to be an NFL QB, he has only 16 games on the field. I'd like to see how he does against a couple of quality defenses, where his receivers aren't quite as wide open all game long. Yes, he has shown a knack for threading the needle as the situation requires, but if defenses are set to force a passing situation, how accurate will he be then?
How does he handle things when the pucker factor is nearing 10? I think we need to see him against an SEC-type defense -- Nov. 7th -- can he play when the grass on the Stanford turf is ready for harvest? The Ducks are behind (theoretically) late in the game -- can he lead his team to victory -- how tight are his passes when he is under duress?
Does he go? I think he stays one more year, buying a $multi-million insurance policy against a career-ending injury, gets his degree, and then goes with a clear conscience.
Personally I'd like to see him stay. Three years ago he wasn't even the Starter on his own Varsity squad.Lets let him be a kid and have some fun in college before we force him out to the league. I bet if we were to ask him he'd say the same thing. Go Ducks !
My opinion is that he will play his junior year. My reason has nothing to do with the above info. It has to do with the fact that MM was taught to finish what he starts. He will get his college degree at the end of his junior year. True, he could finish after football... but that's not the same and that is not really finishing what your start. Character, maturity, etc.... these seem like priorities in the Mariota family. If I'm a betting man right now I'm betting he won't leave.
I actually don't think he's ready for the pros just yet. He isn't vocal enough. The talent is there, but until he morphs into that field general that barks orders and becomes a commander of men, I can't see him in the big leagues.
Talent isn't a problem though. He's got all the tools to be someone special at the next level, that's for sure. Maybe Chip will take him in the first round next year? Wouldn't that be a hoot?
I hope you are right Dale and we get one more year of Marcus. It does seem like the NFL defenses are reacting to the zone read. Kapernick is being thrown under the bus by some sportwriters already with the slow start of the 49'ers. In any event, this is the year for the Ducks to take it all the way. Next year is another story.
@JonSousa Jon, that's a heck of a question. Right now his behavior/maturity scores have to be somewhere between Ryan Leaf and Todd Marinovich.
@Coastal Duck You identify two key factors in his decision. The rest of this season will reveal a lot about his readiness and ability to thrive in pressure situations
Heisman and national title in hand, it makes more sense for him to go. I like your suggestion about insurance, getting his degree and staying one more year.
@TrevorHayes Marcus usually Ducks the question but your answer seems very reasonable. The additional time to mature and develop and the college experience will benefit him in the long run. He has the skills and potential to be very good as a pro, but he's not as ready as Luck and Rodgers were in the leadership/confidence/maturity areas.
@JonSousa Good observation about finishing the degree. It'd be a great win for Duck fans, the equivalent of landing a 7-star recruit.
@zduckfan A pro locker room, a pro line of scrimmage and a pro postgame interview room will demand a lot more from him in areas where he seems to be a little uncomfortable now. Mariota indeed has the talent, but it's growing more confident as a man that will give him the dimension to succeed in battles against Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
@SonomaDuck Agree, SD. I think the zone read has much less viability at the pro level simply because the players are bigger, faster and more violent. Mariota is a good quarterback, and in spite of the system label, he could succeed in a variety of schemes.
This is the year for the Ducks. Five defensive tackles are seniors. They have 10 underclassmen with NFL draft potential. Ifo and Lyerla are probably gone. Mariota and DAT could be. Huff is a senior. Grasu, Johnstone and Fisher are draft eligible. The Ducks can continue to compete, but this year, with a manageable schedule, talent and leadership is the year. It gets harder next season, especially if Mariota moves on.
@Dale Newton I think the players are bigger, faster, and more violent as well. Seeing Philadelphia spread the field out negates the bigger and violent parts. Running plays as fast as they do takes care of the faster part. Hard to run when your lungs feel like they're full of cottage cheese.
A new age is dawning in the NFL. In five years, it'll be just like college is now, and those big fat offensive linemen will be eating vegetables and going to Yoga.