After leading Oregon to one BCS Bowl game win, one conference title and the first ever college football playoff final, Marcus Mariota has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, where he is projected to be the first quarterback taken off the board.
Mariota, from Honolulu, Hawaii, won the Heisman trophy for his performances in the 2014 season and put together one of the more impressive three-year bodies of work in college football for a quarterback, which right now makes him the top overall prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owning the number one pick. Mariota leaves college football after also winning the AP player of the year and the Pac-12 offensive player of the year awards for 2014. He’s an All-American for 2014 and a three time first team All Pac-12 team member, making it in every season.
Finishing his career with 10,796 passing yards and 2237 rushing yards, Mariota is one of only four quarterbacks in college football history with 10,000-2000 in those categories. He led Oregon to a Rose Bowl victory over Florida State (in the context of the college football playoff semifinal), has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his 41 starts (36-5 as a starter) and set a new Pac-12 record for overall touchdowns in 2012 with 58: 42 passing, 15 in rushing and one in receiving. His 136 career touchdowns are also a conference record, even for a player who played for only three years.
How will all of this success translate when he plays in the NFL? That’s the thing – no one knows. There are few “sure things” in life, and making a successful transition from college to the pros is not one of them. Even Andrew Luck, if you might remember, who is probably the most hyped quarterback prospect coming out of college for quite some time, needed to prove to the scouts that he has the arm strength to compete in the NFL, impressing in the workouts and getting to be that number one pick.
Jameis Winston should be Mariota’s major competition for the number one quarterback taken off the board and possibly overall as well. Right now Winston’s stock is lower – not just because of the 2014 season on the field, but also for his behavior off of it.But things change in the long time between now and the draft, and workouts, interviews, combines and other factors come into play, sometimes resulting in a drastic change compared to what was expected when the players initially made themselves available for the draft.