REPORT: Marcus Mariota Could Face ‘Aaron Rodgers’-Like Slide In Draft

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The NFL Draft is three weeks from Thursday and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has emerged as the most intriguing/important prospect in terms of how the first round COULD play out. Despite upper echelon physical tools, Mariota’s limited experience in an NFL-style offense combined with what some are describing as a less-than-ideal personality make-up has some questioning whether a team would use a top-five pick on him.

One team that most certainly would look past any perceived issues with Mariota is the Eagles. Head coach Chip Kelly has gone on record with his love for his former quarterback as an NFL prospect and appears reserved to the fact that he probably won’t have a chance to draft him if it requires moving up into the top of the draft.  Here is a snippet from Kelly’s discussion with the media at the NFL’s Annual Meetings when the topic of trading up in the draft came up:

"“Philosophically I want to keep all of our draft picks,” Kelly said. “I think you build your team through the draft. So if you gut yourself for one year and for one guy, philosophically I don’t think that is the right thing to do.”“What’s it cost?,” Kelly said. “Give me a number?”“Two first-round picks,” the reporter replied.“Where am I going?,” Kelly said, “From where to where?”“To No. 6,” said the reporter.“Never gets you there,” Kelly said. “It took two first round picks to go from No. 6 to No. 2 two years ago.”"

Kelly’s knowledge of blockbuster’s past is accurate. It does not seem logical for the Eagles to have a prayer of moving up the 15+ spots necessary to have a shot at Mariota were he to be looked at as a no-doubt top-five pick. Of course, a whole new world of possibilities would open up if Mariota somehow fell out of the top-six of the upcoming draft. According to league sources who revealed information to YahooSports’ Charles Robinson, there is a real possibility of something like that happening.

"“If [Mariota] doesn’t go in the top six picks, he could do an Aaron Rodgers,” he said.This was a dark nod toward draft torture. Specifically, the 2005 first round, when Rodgers did a slow bake on national television as his draft position Plinko-ed from a potential No. 1 pick to the 24th selection.Few believe this could happen to Mariota. Falling that hard?“If he gets past the top six, it could be out of the top 10 to whatever point the Eagles trade up for him,” the personnel man said."

The ‘courtship’ of Mariota has been a peculiar one in the weeks leading up to the draft. Both the Buccaneers and Titans, owners of the top two picks in the draft respectively, had the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner in for extended visits. Beyond that is where things get odd.

The Redskins, picking 5th overall, had been attached to him for several weeks now. Many had assumed the intrigue was a leverage play by Washington in an attempt to try to trade out of the 5th spot to recoup a package of picks. Speculation of that being the case intensified when Albert Breer of NFL.com reported the two sides cancelled a visit planned for Mariota.

The Cleveland Browns are another team that has been linked to Mariota for some time now. Owners of the 12th and 19th overall picks and perhaps the NFL’s most undesirable situation at the quarterback position, Cleveland has been mentioned quite a bit in regards to pursuing various options.

Another wrinkle in the pursuit of Marcus Mariota is the apparent interest of the San Diego Chargers. With Phillip Rivers playing out the end of his deal and the organization nearing a crossroads, San Diego has apparently become very interested in Mariota and have even set up a visit for the quarterback.

***Note that this Tweet was well before Breer’s report of the cancellation of the Redskins visit*** Finally, there is yet another team with a veteran quarterback entrenched apparently kicking around the idea of replacing him with Marcus Mariota.

What is perhaps the most odd about all of this smoke three weeks before the draft is that multiple NFL organizations would reveal such plans if they actually intended on making such a move.

Since the Eagles traded for Sam Bradford, they have been suspiciously absent from any sort of ‘reporting’ as far as a trade up for Mariota. Yet, there is still an overwhelming notion that they are still very much interested in making him their quarterback of the future. Bradford is still being looked at much more as a trade chip than a potential franchise quarterback in Philadelphia.

With this many teams linked to Mariota, it makes more sense that teams are trying to bait a buyer into trading up to draft him so they can benefit from a potential slide. Everything comes back to the Eagles being the only team 100% prepared to provide Mariota the ideal atmosphere for a young quarterback such as him. Chip Kelly seems steadfast on not making a major leap in the first round to acquire Mariota. Depending on how things shakes out, he may not have to.

Next: Browns and Eagles Discussing QB Swap?

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