Greg Bedard at MMQB.si.com has written a feature on Marcus Mariota’s pro-prospects. The headline for the piece is ‘Everything’s There But the Fire‘.
Here’s how the story begins…
“He scrambles like Kaepernick, sheds tacklers like Roethlisberger and throws with preternatural precision. It all points to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota as the No. 1 pick next year and sure-fire NFL franchise QB.”
Bedard goes on to further compliment Mariota…
“Mariota looks as if he’s been designed by a franchise-quarterback computer program.”
“He also has a bulletproof work ethic and a desire to be great. Raised in Honolulu, he’s kind and humble and soft-spoken and has never been linked to any sort of off-the-field trouble.”
“Mariota throws the ball with a quick, smooth and quiet over-the-top motion… he doesn’t take a long stride when stepping into his throws, which is the foundation of a quick release.”
“Then there’s Mariota’s speed. Even after Michael Vick, Vince Young, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Mariota may project as the best dual-threat quarterback ever to come out of college.”
All of these points come with a counter. A negative to temper the extreme positives, albeit only slightly.
“Does he play it too cool?”
Bedard later adds…
“Outwardly, the concern is understandable. Before Michigan State, the biggest nonconference game in Autzen Stadium history, it wasn’t Mariota who stoked the flames by screaming encouragement at the team; it was senior cornerback Dior Mathis. And as the Spartans scored 20 straight points to take a 27–18 lead, Mariota was seen on the sideline only quietly clapping or giving players fist bumps.”
Five NFL execs were asked about this for the piece and one replied he didn’t think it was a fair question. I sort of agree.
Mariota is a fantastic player, as Bedard acknowledges. In the modern NFL he might be pretty much the ideal QB prospect. He has the physical strength to make the downfield throws and the accuracy for any team looking to play with a quicker tempo. He can be a read-option threat, he can run for positive yardage and he’ll extend plays against a productive pass rush. He is Kaepernick-plus and he’s capable of being effective in both conventional and creative schemes.
Who cares if he’s not an alpha male?
Some of Seattle’s success in player recruitment is down to constantly asking what a player can do, while avoiding lingering too much on what he can’t.
Any team doubting Mariota’s skills because of a supposed issue like this deserves to lose games and be in position to draft him with the top pick. Nobody — nobody — comes close to his level of potential heading into next year’s draft. It might be an issue if he was moody, aloof and unresponsive. Every report you read about Mariota suggests he’s the ideal team player with a great work ethic. He just isn’t a big talker.
You could even argue his ability to keep his emotions in check is a major positive trait. So what if he wasn’t shouting at his team mates during a tough stretch in the Michigan State game? His ability to take each play at a time, remain composed and ultimately lead an emphatic comeback is surely only a good thing?
A quarterback doesn’t have to be the most outspoken, vocal leader on the team. Russell Wilson is a very determined, hard working individual. He leads by example. I sense — with some confidence — he’s not a chest beating, emotive speech-maker. Seattle’s players probably turn to Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman for that kind of motivation — and previously Red Bryant. In fairness Bedard himself name-checks several Super Bowl winners, including Eli Manning and Joe Flacco, who have similar personalities to Mariota.
We as draft enthusiasts shouldn’t waste any time worrying about this — and more importantly, neither should NFL teams.
Mariota will be a terrific player at the next level, giving a team an instant identity, a playmaker and a cause for optimism.
Jameis Winston to miss one half against Clemson this weekend
A good example of someone who is viewed as a vocal leader in his dressing room — and very much an alpha male — is Florida State’s Jameis Winston…
Florida State announces Jameis Winston will be suspended one half vs Clemson for inappropriate comments in public
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) September 17, 2014
Winston won the Heisman last year and led Florida State to a national title. However, the character concerns he presents are much more serious. This latest act doesn’t touch the seriousness of some of the previous issues he’s had — it’s just another sign of immaturity.
Nobody expects college players to be saintly in their approach. Who can say they were perfect, upstanding citizens aged 18-21? Yet Winston has a lot to lose and needed to keep his head down this season. He also has a lot to work on technically — especially a long-winding release that must be addressed to avoid growing comparisons to Byron Leftwich. He’s not as accurate as Mariota and he’s not the same kind of runner. It was strange watching him squint at the sideline last season and refuse to wear contact lenses. And now this.
Winston’s latest offense is that he stood up in a crowded area of the Florida State campus and screamed, “F–k her right in the pu–y.” He apparently thought that was funny because that phrase has been spoken on some viral videos, and some pranksters have managed to say it on live television.
If this were Winston’s first offense, it might be written off as a sophomoric joke. But it’s far from the first offense for Winston, who was accused of raping a fellow Florida State student in a case that led to no criminal charges but a subsequent investigation into whether the school and the local police botched their handling of the matter. Winston was also previously suspended from the school’s baseball team for shoplifting. There’s a widespread belief that Winston just doesn’t get how a high-profile athlete is supposed to conduct himself.
For me, he’s not ready to be a NFL pro. Some people need longer to mature. Remember, this is only Winston’s second season as a starting college quarterback. He’s a redshirt sophomore.
By January he could be a double National Champion with nothing else left to prove. For the sake of his NFL career, he might be best served going for the hat-trick. Even then — the FSU staff clearly aren’t getting through to him, which is probably why they’ve taken this latest measure to suspend him for such a key game.
Either way, it’s hard to imagine any franchise spending a first round pick on Winston in 2015 — however successful he is.