In a move that surprises absolutely nobody, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will apply for early entry into the 2015 NFL Draft.
"After meeting with my family I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and apply for the 2015 NFL Draft," Mariota said in a prepared statement. "My four years at the University of Oregon have been an awesome experience. I cannot thank Coach Kelly, Coach Helfrich, Coach Frost, the rest of the Oregon coaches and the support staff enough for molding me as a person, player and student-athlete."
A 6-foot-4, 220-pound dual-threat player, Mariota won the Heisman Trophy in 2014 and has drawn comparisons to 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his athletic ability and to Packers' star Aaron Rodgers for his accuracy in the passing game. The move to the next level for Mariota was widely expected following Oregon's loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
"He was never going to make a decision in three days," Scott Frost, Oregon's offensive coordinator, told CFB 24/7 on Monday. "He's been thinking about this a long time, and he'll make the right decision."
Mariota ends his career in college with a remarkable 105-to-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio and earned nearly every major offensive and player of the year award in the sport this season, including the Heisman Trophy. He finished with a 36-5 career record with the Ducks and passed for a touchdown in every game he started. In addition, Mariota became the first player in Pac-12 history to account for 5,000 or more yards of total offense in a season and set an FBS record with a plus-50 ratio of touchdowns (58 in all) to turnovers (seven) this year.
Despite the record-setting numbers, there are a number of talent evaluators who question how well the quarterback can fit in the NFL because Oregon does not run a traditional offense. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks believes Mariota can develop into a spectacular player in the pros but considers Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston to be the more advanced passer among the elite signal-callers who intend to apply for the 2015 NFL Draft.
The deadline for underclassmen to officially declare for the draft is Jan. 15. The 2015 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago from April 30-May 2.