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Report suggests Marcus Mariota could reconsider draft decision

Is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota having second thoughts about his declaration that he will return to school next season?

That might be one way of looking at a report that Mariota received an evaluation from the draft advisory board, information that arrived after his statement on Dec. 3 that he would return to the Ducks. But it turns out Mariota put in the request Nov. 30, one day after the Civil War win over in-state rival Oregon State, according to a school official. So, will learning his draft grade make him reconsider his decision to return?

It could be that Mariota simply wanted feedback on his draft stock to prepare for next season, perhaps with an eye toward purchasing loss-of-value insurance should he fall outside of perhaps the top 15 picks in the first round. That would be worthwhile as the redshirt sophomore is looking at a potentially loaded quarterback crop in the 2015 draft.

Florida State redshirt freshman Jameis Winston could forego his remaining eligibility, while fellow underclassmen Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Brett Hundley (UCLA), and Blake Bortles (UCF) have yet to finalize their plans on whether to return to school.

Mariota (6-foot-4, 211 pounds) is as impressive a physical specimen as any quarterback in college football, possessing elite athleticism and arm strength. But he is still developing as a pocket passer. He has struggled with blitz recognition, operating in a congested pocket, and accuracy on downfield throws, issues compounded over the final four games of the regular season by a knee injury.

Even with those issues, Mariota has thrown for 3,412 yards and 30 touchdowns against four interceptions and rushed for 582 yards and nine touchdowns in his second season as the starter, with the Alamo Bowl against Texas to come on Dec. 30.

Mariota is going to be a highly coveted quarterback once he is available to be drafted into the NFL, though it appears everyone will have to wait until 2015.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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