In the spirit of the off-season and the beginning of mini-camps across the NFL all week, I’ll be taking some time to look back over some of my previous NFL Draft reports, both hits and misses, to see where they’ve developed to this point in their respective careers.
Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota is a budding star and franchise Quarterback, poised to help bring the Titans back to the playoffs after an eight year absence. Tennessee finished the 2016 season with 9 wins, tying their high spell during their postseason dry spell. Much of the Titans’ offensive success in 2016 was centered around the 2nd year signal caller before he broke his leg in the team’s 15th game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
His 2015 NFL Draft report can be found below:
One thing important to note right off the bat in reviewing Mariota’s report: Very few prospects have as strong of a full resume as seen here. Mariota produced high end outputs in every metric across the board, a rarity that helped him secure one of only a handful of ‘Top 10 Overall Value’ scores I’ve assigned since 2014 with my work at NDT Scouting.
Those who were down on Mariota often cited questions regarding his NFL transition coming out of the Oregon offense; but Mariota never once has given an impression that it was an issue. With marginal targets over the course of the past two seasons, Mariota has produced over 6200 passing yards and 45 touchdowns in 27 career games.
His pass catchers are markedly improved entering 2016, he’s only had TE Delanie Walker (both seasons) and WR Rishard Matthews (2016) eclipse 600 receiving yards in his first two seasons. Now, the Titans have veteran WR Eric Decker and rookie Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor added to the mix. The added explosiveness and route running acumen should help Mariota’s statistics take the next step to mirror his skills.
Reading through Mariota’s film report and many of the same traits are evident in watching his film at Tennessee. He throws with timing, is capable of reading the full field of play and shows flashes of incredible spatial awareness whilst using his eyes to manipulate secondary defenders.
Speaking more specifically to one of Mariota’s most notable strengths, his work in the red zone through his first two seasons has been immaculate. In the more condensed areas of the field, where timing is of the utmost importance, Mariota has yet to throw an interception. His production from 2016: 19 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His standing ranks at the top of the league in passer rating, touchdowns and ball security in the most vital game situation in the sport.
With improved targets, added size on the boundary and greater run after catch skills, I would expect Mariota’s production to continue to rise. The Titans are poised to make a run to the top of the AFC South and in doing so they’ll need to ride their franchise passer to even greater heights. The needed skills are present, as are the between the ears aptitude to make it happen.