Marcus Mariota: Can't control talk

ByChantel Jennings ESPN logo
Friday, March 13, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. -- On Wednesday, Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he believed Marcus Mariota was the best quarterback in the 2015 NFL draft.

At Thursday's pro day on Oregon's campus in Eugene, Mariota responded in typical Mariota fashion.

"That was really nice of him," the Heisman Trophy winner said. "When I see him, I'll thank him."

But when exactly will Mariota be seeing Kelly?

On Wednesday -- in the same quote that produced Kelly's praise -- the Eagles coach dispelled the rumors of possible trades in order to get his team into a position to draft the former Oregon QB.

"We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to get somebody like that," Kelly said.

Mariota was asked how he deals with all the talk surrounding his NFL future, both the words of Kelly as well as those of others who aren't as confident in his abilities as a quarterback at the next level.

"Just not pay attention to it -- you can't control it," Mariota said. "This process is something that's controlled by other people so all you can really do is put yourself out there, show what you can do and then see where you end up."

Kelly said Thursday that Ryan Day, his new quarterbacks coach, met with Mariota at the pro day.

"There's about seven quarterbacks that are in the draft," Kelly said. "Our quarterbacks coach, Ryan Day, will go watch all of them work out. I bet if you ask [Baylor's] Bryce Petty, did he meet him, he would. [UCLA's] Brett Hundley would meet Ryan. Jameis [Winston of Florida State]. That's just kind of what we do. The fact that we had a scout and a coach at [Mariota's] pro day -- I do not think that's going to be on the bottom line of ESPN.

"If there's a quarterback out there, we're going to visit him. Everybody visits with quarterbacks. You can never have enough quarterbacks. I said philosophically, we're opposed to trading up for anybody. We want to keep our picks. We want to get a lot more good players in here. We want to develop those players. And eventually we're not going to be big guys in free agency."

Five NFL general managers, as well as Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose Titans have the second overall draft pick, watched Thursday's workout at the Ducks' indoor practice facility. It was not open to the public.

Mariota hit his receiver on 60 of 67 overall throws he made at the pro day, including nine of 10 into the red zone.

"I thought it went OK," he told The Associated Press. "There were some missed throws here and there but overall I thought I did well."

The questions surrounding Mariota center on whether he can make the transition from the speedy no-huddle spread offense of Oregon to the NFL. On pro day, he took snaps from under center and dropped back to pass.

"I think coming out there was a little bit of butterflies," he said, according to the AP. "But that's OK, that's natural. Once we got in the thick of things, the group started having fun. It was enjoyable."

Mariota did not participate in all of the pro day drills because he had already done many of them at the NFL scouting combine. He had the top 40-yard dash time among the quarterbacks in Indianapolis with a time of 4.52 seconds, to go with a 36-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump.

Mariota told the NFL Network he had met with the Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have the top overall draft pick. He said that after he meets with the Titans in Eugene on Thursday, he'll be flying to New Jersey and spending some time on the East Coast. Although he doesn't have any meetings set up with teams, he said that if a team were to call while he's out there, he'd meet with it.

Other Oregon players taking part in the pro day included center Hroniss Grasu, left tackle Jake Fisher, defensive tackle Arik Armstead, safety Erick Dargan and cornerback Dior Mathis. Eagles reporter Phil Sheridan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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