TAMPA, Fla. -- Marcus Mariota has run the spread offense very productively at Oregon. But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll have success in the NFL.
There's a decent chance Mariota will end up with a team that runs a pro-style offense and that might not be a good thing.
"He just doesn't have the experience," ESPN draft expert Todd McShay said on a conference call with the national media Tuesday.
"The one thing I don't see with him is the anticipation as a passer," McShay said. "It's just because in that offense there's not a lot of opportunity to show that. Even [in the Rose Bowl] he missed several throws you have to make. No one's perfect. Andrew Luck missed a bunch of throws, and Jameis Winston misses throws. But Marcus misses more of a higher percentage of intermediate and vertical throws than I'd like to see ideally.
"You combine that with he doesn't have to make a lot of throws where he's anticipating and throwing to a spot. That's what concerns me. Can he develop over time and adjust? Probably. That's why we have a first-round grade on him. If you're Tampa Bay or Tennessee or the New York Jets, you're sitting there and you're saying, 'I've got this Marcus Mariota guy who's dynamic, who has exceptional intangibles and I think we can develop him.'"
But McShay also sees plenty of positives in Mariota.
"There are so many things that Marcus does well," McShay said. "He has the height. He continues to get bigger. He's put on around 20 pounds of muscle and he now looks the part, where as a couple years ago you wondered if he was too lanky and could he hold up physically. That's really no longer an issue. He has all the intangibles you want and he has all the mental and physical toughness that you want.
"I've read and heard different things that he's too nice and, 'Is he enough of an alpha?' I don't buy into it. With some guys I'd worry about it a little more. But I think he's competitive enough. His teammates respect him and he's a winner. None of that really bothers me with Marcus.
"Obviously, he's a phenomenal athlete. He can extend plays. One thing I love about him is how quick he goes through reads and how quick he operates. In that offense, there's no time to think and there's no time to process. You just have to react and he understands that offense so well that he's able to make one read off the run, one read to the bubble screen. One read to the receiver going down the seam. He does all that in less than two seconds. He really is quick with his thought process, with his instincts and with his recognition skills, which are very important."
Winston and Mariota are considered the top two quarterbacks in the draft. McShay said he doesn't envy general managers and coaches who could have to choose between them.
"With Jameis, he does everything you want when you're evaluating a pro quarterback," McShay said. "But can I trust him? Or is he going to get in trouble or do something that's going to embarrass our franchise? I would not want to be one of these teams having to make that decision with the general manager knowing it may cost me my job one day or my job may be on the line depending on how this pans out. There are just enough red flags with both of these guys -- very different red flags -- but there's enough of them that it's going to make for a very difficult evaluation process."