Once the NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up in February, schools around the country started hosting individual pro days to showcase their prospects' talents. Thursday featured one of the biggest pro days of the offseason when Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota threw in front of scouts from around the league.
Mariota is considered one of the top two quarterbacks in the 2015 NFL Draft, alongside Jameis Winston. But the biggest concern regarding Mariota is his lack of experience in a pro-style offense. He's already noted to be an accurate, athletic quarterback with a quick release, and the format of a pro day can only confirm those attributes, not dispel any concerns about his ability to lead an NFL offense.
But that didn't stop multiple NFL general managers from attending the pro day, including Washington's Scot McCloughan, Tampa Bay's Jason Licht, Tennessee's Ruston Webster and the Jets' Mike Maccagnan, according to the Washington Post. Every NFL team had some kind of presence at the pro day, according to Michele Steele of ESPN.
It also didn't stop the Internet from breaking down every single pass. In all, the reactions were mixed, despite a promising beginning:
Per multiple accounts, Mariota got off to a strong start. The more significant piece of information there is that he took those snaps from under center. That was expected of him, but if he had any issues under center, the media and scouts would have torn him apart, given the pre-existing concerns about his ability to run a pro-style offense.
Rob Rang had several more interesting comments on Mariota's day. He picked about Mariota's first two incompletions, but noted that overall, the quarterback's "velocity, timing in drops and on play action" have been "very impressive."
Sander Philipse of Bucs Nation noted that Mariota looked good, but that his pro day basically showcased "what we expected." That's probably a good thing, as reasonable NFL scouts use things like the scouting combine and pro days as a check against opinions they've already formed.
Here's some video of a couple of Mariota's throws:
Mariota hits former WRs Tuinei and Hawkins to end his throwing session. https://t.co/8ghpH1nnjg— Will Rubin (@_WillRubin) March 12, 2015
At the end of the day, Mariota finished with 65 throws, all of which came from under center, according to Andrew Siciliano of the NFL Network. There were plenty who felt Mariota didn't have a great showing -- just go search his name on Twitter -- but Mariota himself felt that the pro day "went okay," despite some missed throws, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
One guy who didn't think it went particularly well was Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network. He was critical of the day on the network, and also noted that Mariota threw better at the combine:
Interesting. @MoveTheSticks says good thing Marcus Mariota threw at the Combine, which was far better than his pro day. Rarely hear that.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2015
Jeremiah called the pro day "a little bit underwhelming," and that as a "passer alone," Mariota isn't worth a top-20 pick. Count Charlie Casserly and Dane Brugler among those who were either critical or totally unmoved after Thursday:
Charley Casserly after Mariota pro day: "Not a sure thing. If you're going to take him, you've got to hold your breath."— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) March 12, 2015
Not a bad workout for Marcus Mariota, but it wasn't impressive either. I doubt anything today swayed anyone (good or bad) on his NFL future— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 12, 2015
That covers some of the negative opinions, or those who were simply unimpressed by Mariota. If you want to delve more into the over-analysis, you can try and decipher what this tweet is supposed to mean:
Mariota looks too mechanical IMO— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) March 12, 2015
Mariota said that he's meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. The Eagles are coached of course by Chip Kelly, who coached Mariota before coming to Philadelphia. The Eagles recently traded for Sam Bradford, however, and would need a lot to get in a position to draft Mariota. Kelly's also been adamant to the media that trading up isn't part of the Eagles' plans at present.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said that Mariota is "a winner," and that while "we can overanalyze all we want," Mariota is a proven winner and that's more important than the scripted throws at a pro day. Mayock's own assessment of Mariota's afternoon was that he looked fine after he settled in, he said shortly afterwards on the NFL Network.
Nobody offered up a better summation than Charles Davis, however:
Even after an ave Pro Day for M.Mariota I still see him in the Top 10 picks. One day does not change everything-41 successful starts count— Charles Davis (@CFD22) March 12, 2015
Winston's Florida State pro day won't take place until March 31.
Mariota was obviously the main event on Thursday, but wasn't the only draw. Oregon has a couple potential first-round picks outside of Mariota, including offensive lineman Jake Fisher and defensive lineman Arik Armstead.
Armstead ran through his drills, but sat on his combine times for some things like the 40-yard dash. Armstead had a solid day. Here's some video of him running drills with a Chargers employee:
Chargers employee is running this drill, telling Armstead to angle his arms better, stay lower. https://t.co/hNtXzJqzFB— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) March 12, 2015
Armstead is expected to go in the top half of the first round, while Fisher has an outside chance of coming in at the back end of the round. Gil Brandt of the NFL Network was among his fans, saying that Fisher made a lot of money during the pro day:
Mariota did well but guy who really made lots of $$ today was OT Jake Fisher. Ultra-athletic. Moves around like pt guard. Possible 1st round— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 12, 2015
Aside from those guys, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is another significant name, but he's still recovering from injury and did not get to take part in most of the drills and tests on the day. He did manage to put up 14 reps of 225 pounds for the bench press, however, according to Andrew Greif of oregonlive.com.