UCLA coach Jim Mora took respectful exception with NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock regarding former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and his short-term NFL potential.
Mayock said he views Mariota as a project for NFL clubs with one exception: the Philadelphia Eagles, where his former coach, Chip Kelly, is operating an offense that functions much like the one Mariota has grown accustomed to at Oregon.
Appearing on The Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday Mora said: "I don't agree with that. And I would venture to say I've seen more of Marcus Mariota than Mike Mayock. And I respect Mike. If there is one voice out there that I'd listen to, it would be Mike because he does the work, he doesn't poach off of other people's information. He looks at the film, he's active in calling coaches. But I don't think that he's a project. I think the guy is special, that's just based upon playing him and evaluating and studying him for two years now."
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah regards Mariota as the No. 11 overall prospect available in the 2015 draft. But with quarterback being a position of great need for a number NFL clubs drafting early in the first round, Mariota is more likely to be chosen in the top 10.
"In my opinion he's the best quarterback and the best player," Mora said. "That's my opinion based upon what I've seen, which is a lot of film of him. Anytime you start to go in depth in evaluating these players, you're going to find holes. There is nobody that doesn't have a weakness, a deficiency. But Marcus Mariota has such great character, he's big, he's fast, he's strong, he can throw it. To me, he's a sure thing."
The spread-option offense Mariota ran at Oregon is vastly different than what he will have to learn at the NFL level, beginning with but not limited to playing from under center rather than staying in shotgun. Still, Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston -- who ran a pro-style system with the Seminoles -- are regarded as the top two quarterbacks available in the draft.