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Mayock: Unfair to criticize Marcus Mariota's pocket awareness

How early Oregon's Marcus Mariota goes in the draft could come down to how a team projects his pocket awareness.

In a Monday teleconference advancing the NFL Scouting Combine, Mayock was asked about Mariota's draft projection and addressed one of the major knocks against him as a prospect.

"It's hard to kill a kid for not doing something he's not asked to do," Mayock answered, alluding to Mariota's work in Oregon's spread offense, in which quarterbacks are not asked to make a lot of reads while in the pocket.

Mayock said that over the years as an NFL analyst, he has talked to quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning about pocket awareness, specifically asking if pocket awareness is "innate or learned?"

Mayock said the feedback was that awareness can be learned "a little bit," but that the answer from top quarterbacks generally was, "I kind of feel I was born with it."

That's the question with Mariota. Does he have innate pocket presence? If not, how much can he learn? Because of Oregon's style of play, there really isn't much history there.

Florida State's Jameis Winston generally is considered the top quarterback in this draft. He played in a pro-style offense with the Seminoles and thus has a two-season history of decision-making in the pocket. For the most part, he gets high marks in that facet of his game.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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