<
>

Mariota decision impacts Jaguars draft

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars' pool of potential quarterbacks is a little smaller now that Oregon's Marcus Mariota has announced he is returning to school for his redshirt junior season.

ESPN's Todd McShay, who also is the director of college scouting for Scouts, Inc., wrote that Mariota made the correct decision to return to school even though he believed that Mariota had a chance to be the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft in May. Mariota may not have been the Jaguars' top quarterback choice -- a decision that likely won't be finalized until March at the earliest -- but he was undoubtedly on general manager Dave Caldwell's radar.

The quarterback class didn't have an elite prospect like Andrew Luck but it was a deep group, provided six underclassmen decided to leave school early: Mariota, Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, UCLA's Brett Hundley, and Baylor's Bryce Petty. The final five have not yet announced their plans, although it's highly unlikely that Manziel would return.

Bridgewater, Manziel, Hundley and senior Zach Mettenberger of LSU appear, at this time anyway, to be the Jaguars' top options if they decided to take a quarterback in the first round (they currently have the No. 3 overall pick). Manziel and Bridgewater likely would not be available in the second round should the Jaguars opt instead for another position in the first round.

If the Jaguars choose to address quarterback even later in the draft, they'd likely have a group of seniors from which to chose: Alabama's A.J. McCarron, Fresno State's Derek Carr, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Miami's Stephen Morris, and Clemson's Tajh Boyd.