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Marcus Mariota to Chicago? Analysts disagree on the fit

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New coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace are overseeing a rebuild of the Chicago Bears, so drafting Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota at No. 7 overall and letting him sit and learn makes sense, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah says.

A rebuild might be in order, fellow analyst Bucky Brooks agrees, but Fox's background means a defensive player at No. 7 makes more sense.

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Jeremiah's most recent mock draft has the Bears taking Mariota with their first-round pick. He calls that a "perfect situation for both parties," saying Mariota can sit and develop for a few years as Jay Cutler quarterbacks the team.

"I know that's not the trend any more -- 'we've got to get these rookies on the field right away' -- but I do think you could have a nice payoff if you're allowed to develop Marcus Mariota," Jeremiah said on NFL Network's "Mock Draft Live" on Wednesday, noting Cutler's presence gives the Bears just that opportunity.

While admitting that Fox would be "intrigued" by Mariota, Brooks said he thinks the Bears get defensive with their first pick.

"Look for them to take a defensive player to get them back on track," Brooks said. " ... (Fox) wants to make sure the defense is what this team is built on."

Brooks was a scout with the Carolina Panthers when Fox was the Panthers' coach, and Brooks noted that Fox "likes defensive picks."

Chicago could use an edge rusher and help in the secondary. A top-level edge rusher seems likely to be available at No. 7; the Bears likely would have their choice of any corner or safety with that pick, as well.

Mariota definitely needs seasoning; he is not "NFL-ready." But can Cutler be a mentor? Frankly, that seems a stretch. Cutler has the physical tools necessary to succeed, but as for the idea of him imparting knowledge that would make Mariota a full-fledged NFL quarterback -- a lot of folks would be skeptical about that. And they should be.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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