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Jets coach Todd Bowles fuels Marcus Mariota speculation

Quarterback Geno Smith has yet to prove that he's the Jets' answer under center, and the team's brass hasn't exactly been throwing its weight behind Smith, the incumbent starter, in recent weeks.

If anything, the front office has fueled speculation that it might draft a quarterback, with Oregon's Marcus Mariota being the most likely target if the team addresses the position with its top pick (No. 6 overall).

New head coach Todd Bowles certainly seemed to keep that door open while speaking to season-ticket holders Thursday on a conference call.

"We want competition at every position," Bowles said, according to the New York Post. "Ryan (Fitzpatrick) is going to compete, as well as Geno is going to compete, and we hope to add somebody else to compete with them, along with (Matt) Simms."

Could Mariota be the quarterback that Bowles is talking about adding? That could be the case after the team had a chance to watch him up close and personal during the Ducks' pro day and a separate private workout late last month in Eugene.

Mariota has long been linked to the Jets with a new regime in place and a need at quarterback following an uneven start to Smith's career.

While the speculation has been that the team could stand pat at No. 6 and have Mariota fall into its lap, the conventional wisdom about when Mariota comes off the board might be shifting. Some say Mariota could be off the board as high as No. 2 to the Tennessee Titans, and then there's the Redskins -- picking one spot ahead of the Jets -- who already are making it known that they would be willing to trade the pick if presented with the right compensation.

"Sitting at six is a very good spot to be in," said Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan. "It does allow us the potential to move up in the draft because we're not far from the first pick."

So, the Jets are doing nothing to dissuade people from thinking they might go after Mariota in the draft. Given the amount of misinformation that typically flies around during draft time, though, maybe that's exactly what they want everybody to think.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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