Last night, despite trade speculation with many teams, the Tennessee Titans drafted Marcus Mariota with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Mariota is now on his way to Tennessee to be introduced to the media, and it appears this pick will stick.
“Every minute we spent with him it just felt better and better,” Titans general manager Ruston Webster said of Mariota, via The Tennessean. “I think our whole room, coaching staff and scouts, the whole group, was extremely excited. … In the end, I think, to a man in the draft room, with our coaches, it was unanimous.
“There were several teams (interested in trading for the No. 2 spot). At the end of the day, we just felt strongly about Marcus and that was the direction we needed to go. There wasn’t enough reason for us not to take him.”
One of those teams was the Philadelphia Eagles and Mariota’s former college coach, Chip Kelly.
Kelly said, “It was just a really steep price. It’s like driving into a nice neighborhood and looking at a house and saying, ‘That’s really nice,’ and then they tell you the price and you turn around and drive away. We didn’t walk in the front door. We didn’t take a look around.”
Media and experts around the country reacted to the pick:
Mike Voss of the USA Today wrote, “Mariota was the best pick available … but he stands directly opposite of Whisenhunt’s offense on the spectrum. This is a marriage that will feature massive compromises if it has hope of succeeding.”
Titans ESPN reporter Paul Kuharsky raised a similar question. “Can Ken Whisenhunt revise his offense in a way that will spur the development of Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 pick in the draft, to grow into a pro-style pocket passer on a reasonably rapid curve? Can the Titans’ second-year coach, who gravitated to the immobile, cannon-armed Zach Mettenberger in 2014, find ways to use Mariota’s smooth-movement skills?”
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco continued the skepticism, “Not that enthused about Titans going with QB Marcus Mariota. It’s a C- in my book. What if he doesn’t win the job?”
But — SI’s Peter King said the pick made sense for the Titans on multiple levels. “No one knows how he’ll adjust to the pressures of the NFL, but Whisenhunt isn’t concerned with how much he’s going to struggle learning how to call plays in the huddle (which he didn’t have to do at Oregon) or with the concepts of the pro offense.
As Whisenhunt watched Mariota on tape, he got to learn that the perception of him being just a running quarterback was false. Seventy percent of his throws were from the pocket in the national semifinal win over Florida State — those are the kinds of things that burst the bubble of the perception that Mariota can’t run a pro-style offense.
Mariota, Whisenhunt learned, “wasn’t just a runner with the occasional ability to move around and make throws outside the pocket. The majority of his throws were actually from the pocket.”
Marcus will be introduced to the Tennessee media today and I’m sure, handed a thick playbook at some point, as well.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline