Will Marcus Mariota Fall to the New York Jets at #6 in the 2015 NFL Draft?


Perhaps the best thing that happened for the New York Jets was Marcus Mariota’s team being blown out in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The Oregon Ducks junior quarterback has announced his intentions on entering the 2015 NFL Draft and the Jets have the sixth overall pick. They can hope he falls to them or trade up if they feel that he is the answer for them.

Mariota actually had decent numbers in the 42-20 shellacking at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes, going 24-for37 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and a garbage time interception. But the perception was that he could not lead his team – which was a seven-point favorite – to a victory or even keep the game close.

But the winner of the 2014 Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards is still thought of as a highly-regarded prospect that is expected to be successful at the next level. But is he worth a top-10 pick?

The general consensus heading into the draft is that Florida State’s Jameis Winston is the most NFL-ready, at least on the field, and will be taken first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has had some questionable actions off the field, so the interview process with him will be as – if not more – important than the combine or his pro day.

The Tennessee Titans are picking next and they, too, have a need at signal caller. But will they select Mariota that high or tab one of the two outside linebackers (Randy Gregory from Nebraska or Dante Fowler Jr. of Florida) with such a premium on pass rushers and the type that will be ready to go from Day One?

Dec 5, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) is pressured by Arizona Wildcats defensive end Reggie Gilbert (84) in the Pac-12 Championship at Levi

Jacksonville is up next and they have their franchise quarterback in Blake Bortles, who they selected in the first round a year ago. The same goes for the Oakland Raiders, who pick fourth and are thrilled with Derek Carr.

Picking one spot ahead of the Jets are the Washington Redskins, who had a revolving door at quarterback in 2014. Robert Griffin III was ineffective early and was replaced by Kirk Cousins and later Colt McCoy. But the former second overall pick looked better towards the end of the season once he was back in the starting line-up

So if the Jets see Mariota get passed Tennessee, they can inquire to Jacksonville and Oakland what it will take to move up. There is no harm in making two phone calls, even if it for new general manager Mike Maccagan to get his feet wet in the war room. You know that the media will want to know if Mariota was on the docket for the Jets if they have a chance at picking him.

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This is not a draft strong with offensive tackles or cornerbacks but there are a few attractive wide receivers that should go high. So if you’re Maccagan, do you go for a position of need or just merely the best player available? If it’s the former, you take Mariota because Geno Smith is clearly not the long-term answer. With the latter, that means adding another pass rusher, a position that has been addressed often in the past few drafts.

The Jets will probably have to trade their second or two middle round picks to move up. That’s a steep price to pay, so it will be hard to knock Maccagan if he stands pat at six. But if the Redskins pass on Mariota and the Jets do, as well, there will be questions asked for years to come.

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