Scouting Report
The supposed doubt among scouts and personnel evaluators that Mariota can make the transition from Oregon's spread offense to an NFL one has been among the most consistently covered stories leading up to the draft. Though those fears could eventually prove to be founded, the Heisman Trophy winner's workout at the scouting combine helped solidify his status as a likely top-five pick. It appears Florida State's Jameis Winston has surpassed him in the race to go No. 1 to Tampa Bay even though Mariota's combine numbers were better. His athleticism has never been in question and that was apparent as he posted the fastest 40-yard dash time among all 15 quarterbacks - 4.52 seconds - and blew away Winston in the vertical jump (36 inches to 28.5) and the broad jump (10-1 to 8-7). Mariota was also first at his position in the three-cone drill at 6.87 seconds and third in the 20-yard shuttle at 4.11. He also threw well, though not as well as Winston in the minds of some observers. Mariota's college numbers are eye-popping. He passed for 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns with five interceptions and a 181.7 rating that easily led the nation in 2014. He finished his three-year Oregon career with 105 passing TDs against 14 INTs, and his 770 rushing yards last year gave him 700-plus for the third time in as many seasons. A classic dual-threat QB, Mariota will force opponents to game-plan for his straight-line speed and big-run potential, along with his exceptional ability to escape the pocket, buy time and deliver throws. He has a quick and smooth release with a strong arm that allows him to put zip on the ball while off-balance, and he boasts NFL height and build. Of course, whoever takes Mariota will have to accept that uncertainty over whether he can transition from a wide-open college system that relied on simple pre-snap reads and shotgun formations. He was rarely forced to go through progressions, a critical skill at the pro level. Despite his exceptional physical abilities, he's clearly raw as a pocket passer and might be in for a big struggle early in his career as he learns the NFL game. Mariota, though, is seen as possessing exceptional character and isn't dogged by the behavioral and legal issues that surround Winston.