Marcus Mariota will quickly be labeled a running QB or system quarterback coming from Oregon’s spread attack, but that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Though Mariota did come from a spread system, his offense allowed him to make more “NFL caliber” reads and throws than many other spread quarterbacks that have entered the league in recent years.
Mariota’s numbers were no doubt inflated due to a favorable offensive system that put additional pressure on the defense, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of succeeding in a “traditional” offense. He has flashed the ability to dissect defenses, and throw to people open, it just wasn’t something Mariota did repeatedly. That will lead to some additional development time, but overall he checks the boxes you are looking for in a quarterback.
Mariota’s rushing ability will be a trait that helps him return value as a rookie. He’s not the most elusive runner who will cut on a dime and leave a defender in his tracks, but he’s a smart runner. He showed a good feel for the most part in college about when to run, and he showed nice vision in finding open space. He’s got excellent long speed, and can break a long run if he gets to the open field. Mariota is likely to do most of his damage though in the red zone and as a chain mover picking up safe first downs.
Overall Mariota represents a high ceiling/high floor type of a prospect, with the only concern being the certainty level of the ceiling. While he’ll need some development, Mariota is likely to be a capable NFL starter, the question is how high up the starting quarterback hierarchy he can rise. Still being a capable NFL starter has a lot of value and should help Mariota get drafted early in the first round.