NFL.com is reporting that one AFC scout said that Marcus Mariota will fall in the draft. That fits with the general negativity (or relative negativity) we've seen on the Oregon quarterback over the past few weeks.
The scoop: "All these teams high in the draft are all going to see the same things on tape with Mariota, and I'll bet he starts to fall on draft day. Once that happens, (Philadelphia Eagles coach) Chip (Kelly) will mortgage the future to go get him. If he misses on him, (Kelly) can just bolt back to college." -- AFC scout.
The skinny: While it might be premature to label Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as a "draft day slider" before the NFL Scouting Combine or even his personal workout, we've seen the same concerns on tape that everyone else is seeing in terms of his anticipation, pocket poise and simplicity of scheme. Kelly recruited Mariota to Oregon to run his offense, and we're sure he would love to have a quarterback with Mariota's ability outside of the pocket to fully unlock the Eagles' offensive potential. Would Kelly be willing to risk the king's ransom it would likely take to move that far up from pick No. 20?
That's pretty much the big concern for Marcus Mariota: how will he adjust to the NFL? Mariota is tough to evaluate mostly because those essential attributes weren't on display that often. He's thrown with anticipation -- but he's only had to do that once or twice per game. He's made some big-time throws, but not all that many during his career. He gets through reads plenty of times, he's just not asked to do it more than 5-10 times per game, in part because his first read is usually open. His ball placement is inconsistent, and he doesn't have a huge arm to compensate for a lack of anticipation.
And all of that is made worse by the fact that he never drops back from center, is gifted plenty of easy throws and his explosive athleticism is more of a weapon in college than it will be in the NFL. It makes for a tough evaluation, and it means he'll have plenty to learn once he gets to the NFL. That's not to say he can't learn those things: by all accounts he's a very hard worker who will bury himself in the playbook to know everything there is to know. But it's probably going to be more of a transition than it might be with Winston.
One thing I don't get is the idea that he doesn't have pocket poise or struggles to adjust to pressure. While he breaks the pocket more frequently than someone like Jaimes Winston, the difference isn't as big as you'd think. Moreover, I've rarely seen him drop his eyes and react negatively to pressure. Most of the time, he adjusts, keeps his eyes downfield and finds the safe option.
Does all of this mean the Bucs don't like him? Or that he'll fall in the draft? Well, not really. But it's certainly possible.