Oregon announces QB Marcus Mariota will return next season
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 3, 2013
The big news of the day (aside from Jim Mora’s decision to stay with UCLA) is the announcement by Oregon that Marcus Mariota won’t declare for the 2014 draft.
It’s not that much of a surprise really.
Mariota has a very intriguing skill set, but he’s not the finished product by any stretch. He can work on his arm strength — there’s definitely the frame there to add some extra upper body muscle. A third year starting will be a big plus, and it seems he’s keen to get his degree (always a good thing).
I voiced some concern in this piece about how he might project to the NFL. Nothing about this decision will harm him.
And despite a few odd results recently, Oregon are too good to suffer a catastrophic, stock-destroying season like we saw with Matt Barkley and USC last year.
It does make things very interesting at the top of the draft.
UCLA’s Brett Hundley shouldn’t declare, but will he spend even more time considering his options now that Mariota is staying in the PAC-12? The quarterback market has thinned at the top, after all. Although he too would really benefit from another year starting.
Hundley also needs to be aware that teams are not reaching for needs at the position. Last year several high profile quarterbacks sank into the middle rounds. An impressive physical skill set is no guarantee you’ll find a home in round one.
The Mariota news could help the likes of A.J. McCarron, Derek Carr (see his recent performance vs San Jose State below) and Johnny Manziel (assuming he declares). All three, for me, still look like early second round picks. Especially with the quality and depth on the offensive line next year.
It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see teams going receiver early (there’s a few good ones this year) and then looking to get a quarterback in round two — just like Cincinnati did with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. There’s no receiver out there as good as Green, but there are superior quarterbacks to Dalton.
One name to keep an eye on — Blake Bortles at UCF. Physical, good athlete and playing well this year. He could be a quick riser over the next few weeks.
I’m putting my first mock draft out there tomorrow. Bortles will be part of it…
Derek Carr vs San Jose State
Seahawks needs no clearer
Nothing really has changed as far as the Seahawks are concerned. It’s mostly about who they can keep in the off-season.
Right now there aren’t any glaring holes. The pass rush is much improved — both off the edge and inside. Pass protection has seen a noticeable improvement since the return of Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini. And the sheer depth of Seattle’s secondary is testament to the front offices’ ability to find corners without spending high picks.
We can’t say what Seattle’s needs will be today. We won’t know until free agency comes and goes.
Who will they cut? Who will they re-sign? All mysteries right now.
But just take a moment to realise what that means. How on earth are there not major, clear holes on this roster? There’s depth and talent right across the board.
And it’s no surprise Football Outsiders continues to rank the Seahawks as the #1 team in the NFL.