NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In Marcus Mariota, the Tennessee Titans believe they've found a long-term answer at quarterback, a player with poise and smarts who understands the position and already has a feel for sorting through defenses.
If he pans out as they imagine, they will have finally hit on a quarterback after missing on two other recent first-rounders -- Vince Young third overall in 2006 and Jake Locker eighth overall in 2011.
Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote about how the NFL has a quarterback crisis, where prospects in draft combine meetings were flummoxed by questions about some basic football principles.
"The knowledge base was so low, Buffalo's [GM Doug] Whaley said, that it left him feeling 'a little nervous about the long-term future of this game,'" White wrote.
But if current trends continue, NFL insiders say, quarterbacks who have the sophistication to outfox NFL defenses to deliver the ball to open receivers are "going to be on the endangered species list," said Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine. "The quarterback may not be gone yet," he added, "but if you have one, protect it."
"It's doomsday if we don't adapt and evolve," said St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead.
This is a constant discussion on my Nashville radio show, The Midday 180. Does the NFL game need to shift toward the college spread offenses in order to get productive quarterback play? Can it, considering how professional defenses can attach such a scheme?
Will the lack of pro-ready quarterbacks prompt a sea of change that sends the league back to an emphasis on the run game?
These are questions that will sort themselves out in the coming years.
In the meantime, many football executives will look jealously at the Colts with Andrew Luck, a pro-ready pocket passer who can run.
And, will they ultimately look at Mariota the same way?