Marcus Mariota is slipping. The Heisman winner was the consensus number one pick in the upcoming draft just a few weeks ago, but now it's not so clear.
Mariota has been overtaken by Jameis Winston of Florida State as the first quarterback likely to be taken and with other teams near the top not really needing a new QB with other areas to improve, Mariota could find himself slip to the New York Jets at number six or even lower.
But there is one way that he can redeem his reputation as a top passer and that's by proving his quality in the private workouts he'll hold with teams before his name gets called out by Roger Goodell on April 30th.
Test Under Pressure
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers G.M. Mark Dominik appeared on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and explained that teams will have their best chance of figuring out if Mariota is the one for them not at the combine or his pro day, but rather in those workouts where it's just him and them.
“The best thing you can do is you assign areas and points of where he’s gonna go — one, two, three,” Dominik said in the interview. “But you don’t tell it to him until he gets under center or in the shotgun and he takes the snap. And then you give him a two-second count and you go, ‘Find three. Find one. Find two.’
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“It’s the quick decision-making that’s so important on these quarterbacks at this level. That they’ve got to know what to do with the football and where to go with it in a matter of seconds. You try to up-tempo the workout by trying to really confuse his mind as he goes through it.”
So not only will Mariota be scrutinised in his play, but he'll also be pushed to a pace that could take him out of his comfort zone. But the current Heisman holder has been used to an up tempo offense in his time at Oregon so it may suit him.
Marcus vs. Jameis
If Mariota wants any chance of being that number one pick and ending up at the Buccaneers then he will have to go above and beyond expectations because of Winston, a fellow Heisman winner.
Winston is used to a pro style offense having played that way with the Seminoles, whilst Mariota didn't. Winston can be trusted to start straight away but in all honestly you wouldn't really want to have to make either of them your starter. Both need time to settle and maybe come in a few months into the season like Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater, having had a chance to settle in and learn the system.