It's often said in scouting circles that there is no such thing as a perfect prospect. Flaws will be found, no matter how much a player impresses on film, at the NFL Scouting Combine, or in an interview setting.
The point was driven home for Oregon coach Mark Helfrich prior to this year's NFL draft. Helfrich told ESPN on Wednesday that as the draft approached for Ducks star quarterback Marcus Mariota, an NFL head coach and general manager had this to say to Helfrich: Mariota's lack of red flags was a red flag.
NFL evaluators are a meticulous bunch, and the homework compiled in the evaluation of draft prospects is extensive, if not excessive. So it's not surprising that a clean review of a relatively complete prospect like Mariota would more likely arouse suspicion about what is being missed than any sort of affirmation. Along with having size, athleticism, and an impressive arm, Mariota was also thought to be less of a character risk than Florida State's Jameis Winston prior to the draft. That made picking him apart as a prospect difficult for scouts, but it's not as though there were no concerns. Mariota's transition from a spread attack to a more traditional pro-style offense was certainly the prevailing worry.
This much we know: This fall, NFL defenses will readily expose whatever weaknesses are in Mariota's game, regardless of the draft-season scouting.