Breaking the “Spread QB” Mold
Marcus Mariota entered the league considered an elite talent coming from a spread system that would need time to develop. Mariota has proven to be an elite talent but has been much more NFL ready than expected. He struggled in his rookie season throwing the deep ball but showed an efficient and developed game outside of that. Mariota greatly improved his deep passing in his second season in the league, and also showed impressive refinement in his game for such a young QB. The Oregon product has proven that a spread QB can come into the NFL ready to play.
What could hold him back?
Mariota has struggled from two main issues during his first two seasons. One of these issues was his team. Mariota had almost no offensive support during his rookie season, with a bad receiving core, a terrible running back, and a horrific offensive line (except Taylor Lewan). The Titans did improve the supporting cast for their franchise QB after his rookie year by adding Rishard Mathews, Demarco Murray, Jack Conklin, and more. Mariota flourished his second year behind a good offensive line, with a good running game to boot. The Titans still lacked a true number 1 receiver on their still sub-par receiving core. After adding Corey Davis, who was my number 4 overall prospect, the Titans should have their number 1 receiver for the future, and as polished as Davis’ route-running is, he should be ready to contribute off the bat. The addition of veteran receiver Eric Decker should also help out Mariota, but neither are guaranteed to be significant contributors. Mariota has also ended his first two seasons with injuries; however, they were two unrelated injuries and aren’t cause for concern just yet.
Top 5 QB this season?
Mariota has shown incredible efficiency and ability, and with what finally should be a good receiving core, he should be primed for a monster season. Mariota has a complete game, showing great ability on short, intermediate, and deep throws. He has the athleticism to make plays scrambling, and has shown the ability to evade pressure and make big-time throws, drawing him some Aaron Rodgers comparisons (with a little bit less arm strength). The native Hawaiian’s best trait is his mind. Mariota is what you could call a football genius. He uses his eyes to move defenders and make space for his receivers like no other. The 23 year old reads the field so well and has such good vision that he has been seen using his eyes to move a defender and throwing an accurate throw, hitting his receiver in stride without even looking at the receiver. Mariota is unafraid to throw receivers open and throws to the middle of the field freely. His football IQ has led to staggering efficiency for a young QB, especially in the red zone where he has not thrown an interception in his career.
Future of the NFL
If the Titans can keep their young offensive core intact and Mariota can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for the young Titan. Mariota has elite athletic talent both in his legs and his arm. With elite football IQ at such a young age, Mariota has the potential to be the best player in the NFL in the not so far future.
Image Credit to kgw.com