There is at least one NFL scout holding off on declaring Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota a franchise player. A conversation with UCLA head coach Jim Mora might be all that scout needs to change his mind.
"I had a couple NFL guys ask me if he can play at the next level and I told them, 'Have you not watched him?' " Mora told reporters Monday. "He's going to rip it up at the next level. He's ripping it up at this level. He's special."
It was the second time in as many weeks a Pac-12 coach has linked Mariota to the NFL. Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said he thought Mariota, whenever he decided to enter the draft, would be a top-5 pick.
Listing Mariota's composure first among his most-desirable attributes, Mora said the redshirt sophomore would be "great" regardless of what system he plays in.
Mariota has thrown 17 touchdowns and zero interceptions this season. He has also scored nine rushing touchdowns, and his numbers would be even gaudier if he was playing into the fourth quarter of every game.
But the Bruins might have the linebackers capable of pressuring Mariota in the pocket and limiting his explosive runs, starting with Anthony Barr, the top player on NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt's Hot 100 list.
Kendricks leads the team with 56 tackles and has 1.5 tackles for loss as well as an interception this season.
To contain a player of Mariota's immense ability, as reflected by Mora's praise, UCLA will certainly need all hands on deck.