Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall's determination to play quarterback took a little softer stance this week as the Tigers' senior conceded he would be willing to play another position in the NFL if necessary.
"It's just something I have to think about," Marshall said, according to al.com. "As of right now, I'm open to play anything, but I'm looking to play quarterback."
That's a bit different from the stance Marshall took on the subject back in January, when he said, "That's my dream. I know that I'll be able to play quarterback at the next level," a stance which Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has publicly supported.
But as the flaws in Marshall's passing skills continue to make doubters of NFL scouts when it comes to his NFL potential as a quarterback, his athleticism and running skills continue to command an opportunity for an NFL roster spot. And that could open the door to a few different positions. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks believes Marshall (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) would be well-suited to the safety position. Georgia coach Mark Richt signed Marshall as a cornerback, and still believes he could play that position at the next level.
"We certainly looked at him as (a quarterback), the possibility, but we believed he could be one of the best cornerbacks in America," Richt said. "We believe he could be a very high draft pick as a corner as well. He's that talented of a guy."
Moving to running back could be an option for Marshall, too. He has ripped defenses for 739 rushing yards on just 122 attempts with 11 touchdowns this season, despite the NCAA stat policy that subtracts yards lost via sacks from rushing yards for quarterbacks. It would certainly be less of an NFL adjustment than would a move to safety or cornerback. And a successful precedent is already in place: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Denard Robinson, a quarterback at Michigan, leads the team in rushing and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
For an NFL team looking to save a roster spot by designating Marshall its No. 3 quarterback while primarily playing him elsewhere, the senior could be all the more attractive in the draft.
However, Marshall will have to choose his position path almost as soon as season's end to get ready for the NFL Scouting Combine in late February.