PHILADELPHIA -- There are two ways to look at this one. When Tony Dungy compares Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, you might think, “Great! Rodgers was taken 24th in the 2005 NFL draft! The Eagles can get Mariota at No. 20 this year.”
On the other hand, of course, it is true that Rodgers’ slide to the latter part of the first round is looked back on as one of the more embarrassing miscalculations by NFL teams. Maybe not as bad as Russell Wilson going in the third round to Seattle in 2012, but pretty close.
According to JoeBucsFan.com, Dungy dismissed critics who say that Mariota is entirely a product of Oregon’s system.
"They said the same thing about Aaron Rodgers, and he went late in the first round [that] year,” Dungy said. “And the feeling was that Alex Smith was a little more ready. I think Marcus will adapt and he’ll be fine."
Dungy has more than a passing interest. His son Eric is a wide receiver at Oregon. Dungy has seen Mariota play a lot more than he has watched Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the other top quarterback prospect in this year’s draft.
"If I watched Jameis as much, and knew as much about him, I’d probably have a similar opinion,” Dungy said. “But I just think Marcus is going to be sensational in the NFL."
As sensational as Rodgers, which is pretty sensational.
“I think Marcus has a lot of the same skill set,” Dungy said. “He has the same drive and determination. I just really think the world of him as a person. I just think he’s special.”
Dungy has advised Eagles head coach Chip Kelly about hiring a personnel adviser. There isn’t much need for Dungy to lobby Kelly on the potential of Mariota. Kelly said in December that Mariota is “the most talented” player he coached during his years in college.
The Eagles’ chances of drafting Mariota are obviously not very good. The team with the best chance to take him is Dungy’s former employers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers hold the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
It may be more popular in Tampa to draft the Florida State star. But no team wants to be the one that passed on the chance to get a talent like Aaron Rodgers. There were 23 of those teams in 2005.