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Marcus Mariota: I'll wait until end of year to make draft decision

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No one should be surprised if Marcus Mariota is taking snaps for an NFL team at this point next season after leaving Oregon behind.

However, the redshirt junior is still playing things close to the vest when it comes to his 2015 NFL Draft decision.

» Brandt: Draft order, needs for all 32 teams

"I'm really trying to prolong it as much as I can because once you start diving into those things, it can become a distraction," Mariota told reporters on Tuesday. "There are lot of things that kind of play into those decisions. I'm waiting till the end of the year and we'll make the decision as a family."

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound dual-threat signal-caller is widely considered a lock to become a first-round draft pick and has been labeled by some scouts as the runaway favorite to go No. 1 overall in the spring. While he hasn't showcased all of the skills executives want to see -- fitting throws into tight windows the most notable among them -- Mariota's blend of athleticism, arm strength and accuracy have given him a leg up when it comes to the early pecking order of quarterbacks on NFL radars.

» Mariota, Cooper headline 2014 Midseason All-America team

Mariota actually had a chance to cash in on an NFL future last offseason but decided to put off the draft after injuring his knee late in the season. He returned to school with the goal of leading the Ducks to a Pac-12 title and cited a desire to earn his degree from Oregon as a leading factor in his decision to return for another year of college football. He'll officially have that degree in December.

The prospect of landing a quarterback of Mariota's stature is already exciting some NFL fan bases, with Tennessee Titans fans recently starting a "Suck for the Duck" campaign to pick him as Jake Locker's replacement.

» Heisman Watch: Prescott moves ahead of Mariota

Mariota currently leads the nation in passing efficiency thanks to a sterling 17-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and was selected to the CFB 24/7 Midseason All-America team.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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