College Mariota vs. NFL Mariota: Monster in the Pocket Edition

Mariota giving the 1000 yard stare

In the lead up to the draft, all players, great and small, face a tremendous amount of scrutiny. This scrutiny results in the experts proclaiming what College Player X has to do in order to become NFL Player X. As college players start their NFL careers, they are forced to transition from College Player to NFL Player. Sometimes, the transition doesn’t go well (see: Ryan Leaf). Other times, it does (see: Arian Foster). College Ryan Leaf was a Heisman trophy finalist; NFL Ryan Leaf was the football version of The Towering Inferno. College Arian Foster was an afterthought’s afterthought; NFL Arian Foster became a publicly-traded athlete. Regardless of a college athlete’s success, each player has weaknesses upon which they must improve.

Any troglodyte NFL fan or a rock can recite the deficiencies of Marcus Mariota like any good citizen can sing the Star-Spangled Banner, the Marseillaise, or God Save the Queen, depending on their national origin. The same fans can also prattle on about St. College Mariota’s myriad miracles. However, to paraphrase the ever-wise Charles Kelly, things are never as good as they seem, and never as bad.

Throughout his college career, Mariota showed a knack for avoiding pressure and making plays that made even my grandmother say, “ZOMG! WHAT WAS THAT!?!?” But that was College Mariota. We all know College Mariota: smart, fast, well-coiffed. Now College Mariota is forced to become the butterfly that will be NFL Mariota. Aristotle said that the beginning is more than half. In this vein, NFL Mariota has begun to shed the trappings of College Mariota. So what does NFL Mariota look like?

Burgeoning card sharkFake arm wrestling champ? (Sorry, Sly – Over the Top doesn’t count.) Most appealing NFL player?

How about straight monster?

These are all phrases used to describe one of the top rookie NFL QB’s. Certainly, it must be NFL Jameis Winston, right? There is no way the soft-spoken, product-of-a-system, pro-style offense neophyte could be described in such varied, honorific terms. But in predictably unpredictable fashion, it is not that lover of crab legs, Famous Jameis. These phrases are, in fact, used to describe the anti-Jameis: Marcus Ardel Taulauniu Mariota.

A real-life monster

from commons.wikimedia.org

A real-life monster.

Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans WR, described Mariota, a player pundits and arm-chair quarterbacks alike thought would be lost in a pro-style offense, as a monster in the huddle. He wasn’t described as having command of the huddle, fitting in with the veteran players, or working to earn his teammates’ respect. Hunter used a word reserved for Idi Amin and horror movies.

More questions swirled like fro yo regarding Mariota’s ability to transition from calling plays using pictures of the Hindenburg to 15-word strings of nonsense. Apparently, the transition is going more smoothly than expected, at least according to Clipboard Jesus. This isn’t to say that the transition will be as smooth as a baby’s tuchus. According to ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky, Mariota knows the stakes at hand: “If you’re kind of stuttering and stumbling over the play or the coach has to correct you, the older guys are [not] going … [to] respect that.”

Fast? Check. Arm Strength? Check. Monster? Yep.

Craig Strobeck

Fast? Check. Arm Strength? Check. Monster? Yep.

Finally, talking heads also pondered whether Mariota’s speed and arm would transition well to the NFL. Mariota has made short work of those concerns during the first week of OTAs. Just ask Zach Brown and Delanie Walker. Of course, any Ducks, Beavers, Trojans, or Bruins fan could have allayed those concerns in a heartbeat, whether done begrudgingly or not.

I think it is important to point out that Mariota has the chance to develop in relative anonymity in Tennessee, which can only help to temper expectations. Had Mariota been drafted by the Eagles, Bucs, or Jets, teams rumored to desire the Flyin’ Hawaiian, the scrutiny would have had Mariota grabbing at his collar like Rodney Dangerfield. Whether reuniting with his college coach, being drafted first overall, or being anointed as the future of the New York Nyets, each situation would have come with more pressure and more media attention than Mariota faces with the Titans. This year, the Titans are expected neither to be a threat to the Colts’ dominance of the AFC South, nor to contend for a wild card spot alongside the likes of the Chiefs, Steelers, Ravens, or Bengals. If anything, ending up in Nashville could be the best possible spot for College Mariota to become NFL Mariota

Marcus Mariota is one part Gator

from commons.wikimedia.org

Marcus Mariota is one part Gator.

Even though Mariota shoulders the burden that all highly-drafted NFL prospects face, he has started down the path to stomping out questions about his ability with the same purposefulness that Ndomukong Suh had when he stepped on Aaron Rodgers. Fans should take a step back. College Mariota is in the fledgling stages of transforming into NFL Mariota. While his boyish good-looks will keep him recognizable to fans both casual and rabid, the evolution of NFL Marcus Mariota will result in a much, much different QB. Think Randall Cunningham’s legs + Tom Brady’s arm + Gator McKlusky’s Sheer Awesomeness. One glance and it is readily apparent that Mariota is Gator’s long-lost Hawaiian son, though without the mustache.

Top Photo by Amazing Moments

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Graham Berry

Graham Berry

Graham Berry (Editor and Writer) is a former Lincoln High (Portland) Cardinal and current tax attorney. He decided that contributing to FishDuck.com as an editor and writer would allow him to tick off one of his New Year’s resolutions and volunteer his time for the greater good. Predictably, Graham enjoys all things sports-related, particularly beer and ill-formed opinions. He currently resides in Seattle with his wife and two cats. Follow him on Twitter: @GrahamRBerry.

  • worldwidewebfoot

    Much as I enjoy the subject, our hero Marcus Mariota, there is not a lot of substance to the above essay. And whoever wrote ” seemingly autochthonous in their genesis ” has been channeling the ghost of Howard Cosell.

    • berrygraham

      Note: we are talking about sports, a topic about which there is not a lot of substance. Hey, big words never hurt anyone, as the author, easily identifiable through the above bio, can attest. As always, thanks for reading.

  • Garth Gibson

    K den. Tanks 4 dis

    • berrygraham

      Thanks for reading.

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    i found it hard to understand what the writer was trying to communicate much of the time. too many cutesy little metaphors and not enough just coming right out and saying it.

    • berrygraham

      I said exactly what I wanted to say, though more subtly than you might like: NFL Mariota will allay the concerns that surrounded College Mariota. Thanks for reading.

    • themule

      Thats funny because I honestly thought it was one of the better fishduck articles I have ever read. So much so that I wanted to comment to express this (and I never comment). Bummer that you don’t feel the same way. :.( Go Ducks!