Oregon Ducks star QB Marcus Mariota was recently ranked by ESPN’s Todd McShay as the top QB in the projected 2014 NFL Draft class, and it was interesting to see McShay rank Mariota above Teddy Bridgewater. Even the NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks has Mariota ranked as the top QB in the class, so it’s interesting to see all this love showered upon Mariota, who is clearly one of the best QBs in college football. While Bridgewater is still my top QB, I’ve always had Mariota second behind him, and he seems to have everything you look for at the quarterback position. He has the intangibles, he knows how to face the blitz, he can run, he has the arm strength, and I’ve always viewed him as an accurate quarterback.
That’s why it was interesting to see CBS Sports’s Pete Prisco tweet out that the “one concern” about Marcus Mariota among “some scouts” is his accuracy. I have honestly never been concerned with Mariota’s accuracy, despite the fact that he has had a few games this year with low completion percentages. If you look at his career totals, he has a completion percentage of 66.2%, and the only reason why his completion percentage is down from 68.5% to 62.4% this season is because he is throwing longer passes. Mariota averaged 11.6 yards per completion as a redshirt freshman last season, but that number is at 16.7 yards per completion this season.
16.7. 16.7! That’s absolutely insane, and it’s even more incredible to think that Mariota is still completing over 62% of his passes despite averaging that many yards per completion. He is averaging a whopping 10.4 yards per attempt and has 19 touchdowns with no interceptions this season. He plays smart (just six picks last year as a frosh), and he is an incredibly accurate quarterback. In all honesty, I think the accuracy concerns are borderline blasphemous, because he was praised heavily for his accuracy even coming out of high school. His deep ball is excellent, as seen by the statistics above. Again, look at his low INT totals too.
My concern with Marcus Mariota is the same concern I have for every Oregon Ducks product. How are they going to adjust to the pros? The QBs at Oregon have it so easy, because their scheme always has somebody open, in space. The reads are quick and easy, and they are also conducive to more yards after the catch. When Mariota gets picked in the first round of the draft, then the team that takes him needs to be patient with him in case there are hiccups; the physical tools are there, but there will be a mental adjustment.