Not convinced on the NROL (National Read Option League)

Marcus Mariota will be hoping the NFL continues to evolve

I like Josh Norris’ scouting reports at Rotoworld and enjoyed his early 2014 mock draft published earlier today.

(Well, I didn’t like Seattle passing on Brandon Coleman for a linebacker. Didn’t really get that one. But I digress.)

I think he’s representing an increasing trend among draft pundits to go big on prospective read-option quarterbacks.

Johnny Manziel was the poster boy for this hype previously, although it was semi-justified given his performance last season. I still have big reservations about how he’ll fare in the NFL (ignoring all the off-field stuff) but the negative press has seen him sink like a stone among mock drafters.

Instead he’s been replaced with guys like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Miami’s Stephen Morris — all represented by Norris in the top-15 in his 2014 mock.

I’ve spent a bit of time looking at all three and they’re all fairly different but with an ability to fit into the latest trend of the read option quarterback. All are athletic enough to work it. I’d argue they all lack the kind of polish and pocket presence that traditionally would secure a place at the top of the draft. They have striking positives, but also a lot of negatives. That could be mostly down to a lack of experience for all three.

Perhaps the NFL is changing and these guys get serious early consideration next April? After all, who expected E.J. Manuel to go 15th overall this year? The read option has its place as a wrinkle in most playbooks and it has a greater shelf life than the last fashionable trend (the wildcat).

Chip Kelly’s introduction to the NFL will be interesting. If a fast paced, read option-heavy system can work in Philadelphia alongside continued success for RGIII and Russell Wilson, then who knows what teams will be searching for in a few months time.

I still believe most teams will view the Mariota’s and Hundley’s with some scepticism, especially when players like Teddy Bridgewater are still being churned out by the college ranks. As much as the league is adapting, there’s still a lot of traditional minds in there too.

It’s something I’ll go into more detail in during our coverage this year. Right now I see one sure fire first round QB in Bridgewater. I still believe there’s the possibility of a bounce-back year from Logan Thomas (who people seem to have written off). If Manuel can go top-15, then a rejuvenated Thomas can get his career back on track.

And if the read option becomes such a staple that teams do covet a quarterback that can run it — despite all of his issues — I think Manziel has a better chance of going early than some of the other names suggested.

Even though the Seahawks don’t need a signal caller, this promises to be one of the most talked about topics this year.


  1. Miles

    Since we’re already talking about 2014 mocks, this one from WalterFootball has us taking a tackle in the first round and a wide receiver in the second. I could see us taking a tackle in the first round next year, particularly if we aren’t willing to pay Giac. But I think that player would have to be pretty special, considering Tom Cable will take a garbage man and make him a tackle. Plus I think by this time next year, Michael Bowie and/or Alvin Bowie could be pushing for the right tackle job anyway.

    And then it has us taking another receiver O’Dell Beckham in the 2nd round. He is a six-foot tall shifty receiver ala Golden Tate, so this pick would make sense if we didn’t re-sign Golden Tate. I really hope we end up re-signing Tate though.

    • Rob Staton

      I think it would need to be a special tackle – and special tackles rarely make it to the late first. I just have a feeling this team will believe, especially in light of their recent success (Sweezy, Bailey, Bowie etc), that they don’t need to spend another first round pick on a right tackle.

    • Elijah

      I would think a tackle in the first round would get paid a similar amount to what Giac is getting paid right now, but I’m not 100% sure what the scale is like

  2. Clayton

    I’m also intrigued to see how the read option develops or diminishes in the league. With all the importance that teams place on its QB, I’m really surprised that the read option is lasting this long. I would think that what had happened to RGIII would have made teams a bit more cautious about letting their QBs run loose. But as for this year’s draft, my attention has drifted off of QBs and onto the most highly rated defensive player in this decade. I say in Seattle’s situation, we should be looking at quality over quantity… let’s trade the farm.

    • Rob Staton

      They may be in a similar position to Atlanta now, in that they would consider a move to get a special player. If only another duo of receivers like AJ Green or Julio Jones were available…

      • Kenny Sloth

        Close. Lee and Coleman‚ô™

      • Kenny Sloth

        If you were drafting, which would you have taken?

  3. Kenny Sloth

    Yo, there’s still hella space in the unofficial seahawksdraftblog fantasy football league!!
    Rob, Kip, obviously you both are cordially invited.
    Join at

    • Rob Staton

      I’m already in four yahoo leagues unfortunately (max number) but appreciate the offer.

  4. Kenny Sloth

    While I’m highly intriguiged by many QB’s in this class, I’m really only sold on Teddy Bridge”Over Troubled”water. I’ve briefly checked out Fales and like him a lot as a pocket passer, but regarding these young RO QB’s, I think most of them {namely Manziel and Mariota} should stay in school. There’s a lot to not like about their game. I’m always especially wary of Oregon QBs. U of O {Bless it’s hallowed halls} is a QB deathtrap.
    That being said. I feel like I am in a bit of a minority in my belief that the read option is going to be at least a change-up in NFL playbooks for a long time.
    Do I think we’re going to see an NFL team running Oregon’s pictionary offense? No. But I do find it easy to imagine an NFL in which 1/2 the teams run the RO, with one or two running it 10-20 times a game. I think we’re gonna see widespread use of the RO for at least the rest of the decade.
    {Bold Prediction by a Guy on a Blog}

    • Kenny Sloth

      I want to see some Nickel CBs getting in on this scrape/exchange business.
      Another prediction. The big nickel is coming back.
      My thought process behind this is derived from Antoine Winfield’s presence. He’s kind of a de facto LB. Little bulky agile guy to fuck shit up underneath.
      With a big nickel acting as a LB it gives one a unique ability to roll the coverage.

    • Colin

      I think the read option will be a wrinkle in NFL offenses for years as well. However, I don’t think it can ever be the focus of an offense. We’ve seen Carolina try and do it with Cam Newton quite a bit the last few years, and only until they went to a more traditional sense of offense did they find any consistency. I’m not sure it will ever really take off, simply because you need the right QB’s to do it, and it’s also no secret there are several coaches who scoff at it **cough cough Mike Tomlin cough cough**.

      • Kenny Sloth

        I do believe it could be the focal point of a run heavy team. I’m thinking of Manziel in particular. He’s got some major mechanical issues, but that boy can run! It’s like Seattle not asking players to do things they can’t. Why have this gazelle of a QB pass 25+ times in a game when you could get better production out of his legs?
        OT I think a good place for Manziel would be Denver. Ala Favre/Rodgers.

        • Colin

          I think it’s asking to get a HC fired, IMHO. You have to be able to throw the ball well without the gimmicks. Having the read option be a focal point could be a hot mess.

          • Kenny Sloth

            Hey, the NFL is all about hot messes. I never said it was a good idea..,.

  5. dave crockett

    Exactly the right balance, Rob. I think there are guys who, once upon a time, would not have been considered NFL caliber QB prospects but who now are. And that’s okay.

    At the same time, people often don’t realize that a running a read-option is different than having it be the basis of the running game. It’s different in terms of the non-QB personnel. It’s different in terms of how much QBs get hit.

    At the end of the day, your QB has to be able to throw the deep out consistently for the offense to be good.

  6. Kenny Sloth

    After watching a few hours of Mariota my opinion has been totally changed. He’s got a ton to like. His mechanics are much better than I thought. His motion is a little loopy, his release point can get a little low. I still think he drops because of the Oregon offense, but has top 10 talent for sure. Much higher on him than Manziel.
    Oregon could have 4-5 1st rounders this year.

    • Kenny Sloth

      Hundley and Morris didn’t stick out positively at all on tape.

      • Kenny Sloth

        Morris has a cannon and runs as a last resort.

      • Kenny Sloth

        Hundley looked at his first read and took off lol
        Mariota was going through 3 reads before he would even begin to rollout

  7. smitty1547

    Id love to have one of those fantasy spots!

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