There are only 52 days until the 2015 NFL Draft. Our new daily feature, Meet The Prospect, will introduce fans to the players projected to be the top selections in this year's draft. How will we select the players to spotlight? Easy. You, the fans, get to decide. Tag #EaglesDraft with the name of the draft hopeful you want to learn more about. Who did you pick for today's profile?
Marcus Mariota was the best player in college football in 2014.
The former Oregon quarterback led the Ducks to the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game earning the Heisman Trophy in the process as he completed 68.3 percent of his pass attempts for 4,454 yards with 42 touchdowns against just four interceptions. A threat with his legs, as well as his arm, Mariota gained 770 yards on the ground and scored an additional 15 touchdowns. For good measure, Mariota also hauled in a 26-yard touchdown reception.
In three seasons, Mariota won more games (36) in his time at Eugene than any other Oregon quarterback in a three-year span. He is Oregon's first-ever Heisman Trophy winner and just the school's second-ever unanimous All-America selection. Even more impressive than Mariota's 36-5 record as the starting quarterback was the fact that he threw 105 touchdown passes against only 14 interceptions.
There is a fascination with Mariota in Philadelphia because of Chip Kelly. Mariota was Kelly's quarterback in the head coach's final season at Oregon before coming to the Eagles.
Kelly lavished Mariota with praise before the quarterback won the Heisman Trophy back in December.
"When he was a freshman, I remarked, 'This kid is going to win the Heisman,'" Kelly said. "He's a special young man and he's a hell of a football player and he deserves it. But I don't think it's any impact that I had. The type of kid that he is, he had an impact on everybody that had an opportunity to coach him. I'm sure (Oregon coach) Mark Helfrich and (Oregon offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) Scott Frost would tell you the same thing. He's just a special young man and very deserving of the award."
Kelly also said that Mariota was "the most talented kid that I coached in college." Before the National Championship Game, Kelly said on the ESPN pre-game show that Mariota "might be the fastest guy on the field, but his mind is even faster ... thinks like Peyton Manning."
This has prompted speculation that Kelly will make an attempt to move up in the draft for Mariota. The Eagles hold the No. 20 pick, but Mariota is a consensus top-10 pick in mock drafts and could be the No. 1 overall selection.
Yes, Kelly knows Mariota better than any other NFL team. Yes, Mariota played in a spread offense that makes it more difficult for most teams to project how he will transition to the NFL. Sure, Mariota would be familiar with the Eagles' scheme, to an extent, but it's not copy-and-paste what Kelly ran during his tenure at Oregon. There would be an adjustment period.
Mariota was the best player in the nation last season, but only time will tell if he can become the best pro out of this year's draft class.
Scouting Report From NFL.com
"Quick-twitch quarterback. Rare straight-line speed for the position. Defenses must account for ability outside the pocket. Asked to handle more each season by Ducks coaches and delivered consistent production. Stands tall in pocket with three-quarter delivery and quiet release. Keen sense of where trouble lurks and almost never gets baited into a dangerous throw. Threw multiple interceptions in a game just three times over 41 career starts. Adequate accuracy and ball placement from the pocket. Able to make off-balance, difficult throws. Can uncork throws quickly and without resetting feet when necessary. Can climb the pocket and deliver strikes when he trusts the edges of his protection.
"Silky smooth when asked to roll out and delivers on time with sound mechanics. Has balance and feet to escape collapsing pocket and will look to strike through the air rather than just bolting as a runner. Size, speed and enough skill to eat in the red zone. Considered extremely coachable by scouts, who also love his willingness to play hurt. Very humble and leads by example. Family and heritage are extremely important to him." -- Lance Zierlein