NFL

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota Soaring Up NFL Draft Big Boards

Marcus Mariota

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, the Oregon Ducks have produced some truly memorable offenses.  Naturally, you’d think that such successful offenses were being run by future NFL stars under center.  Only that’s not the case.  For one reason or another, the likes of Joey Harrington, Kellen Clemens, Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli, and Darron Thomas just couldn’t match their collegiate success professionally.  But that little streak looks like it could change with current star signal caller Marcus Mariota, who’s seen his draft stock absolutely soar in recent weeks.

At 6-foot 4, 211-pounds with a reported 4.48 40-time, he’s got as good of a size/speed combination as any other draft eligible QB in the 2014 class.  He’s got an NFL arm that can make all the throws.  He’s a smart, heady player that takes care of the football.  He plays the role not only of game manager, but also game breaker.  His production?  Statistically, it’s hard to find QBs with better all-around numbers.

To boot, he tends to save his biggest performances for the biggest stages, like last week’s monstrous win over the 16th ranked Washington Huskies.  Going into the game, many pundits kept going on and on about the Huskies surprising the No. 2 Ducks.  Not only was the game at Washington, but the Huskies had one of the best defenses in the country.  What does Mariota do?  He completes 24-of-31 passes for 366 yards and three scores as the Ducks cruised to a 45-24 win.  Oh, yeah, and he added 88 yards rushing and another TD on the ground.

On the season, Mariota has thrown for 1,724 yards with 17 TDs and an astonishing zero interceptions, to go along with 426 yards and eight TDs running the ball en route to being considered a Heisman Trophy front-runner.

So what does all of this mean for Mariota draft-wise?  We have to remember, this kid is just a redshirt sophomore (same as Johnny Manziel).  Mariota has two more years of eligibility after this season if he wants them.  If he doesn’t go pro after this season, and say he enters next year’s draft, he’d be a lock for not only Heisman but also the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

But say he decides to leave after this year, even considering how ridiculously deep the 2014 QB class is, what’s his draft stock looking like?  At the start of the year, you’d probably say he was more of a 2nd-round type.  But now, with the way he’s looked and played so far this season, just his second as a college starter, the question isn’t if he gets taken in round one, but how high.

It will be hard to unseat either Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater or South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney on most big boards, but he could be a top-3 pick potentially.  He’s still far from a finished product, but he’s reminding many of a younger version of San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.

It will be interesting to see if not only he continues playing and leading Oregon like this, but whether he capitalizes on such a dramatic increase in draft stock after this season.

Rick Stavig is an NFL Draft Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google.

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