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Tony Dungy: Marcus Mariota is 'Aaron Rodgers in the waiting'

Former Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy likes Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. He likes him so much, in fact, that he compared him to Green Bay Packers star QB Aaron Rodgers.



Dungy was on "The Dan Patrick Show" on Monday morning and gushed about Mariota, saying "he is going to be a great pro" and calling him "Aaron Rodgers in the waiting." He also said Mariota would fit nicely with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who presumably will be interested in drafting a quarterback and should have one of the earlier picks in the draft.

Dungy coached the Bucs from 1996-2001 before moving on to coach the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-08; he guided the Colts to the Super Bowl title in the '06 season.

Dungy knows a lot about Mariota: Dungy's son, Eric, was a wide receiver at Oregon from 2011-13 before finishing his career this season at USF.

Dungy was asked about Mariota's mild-mannered demeanor and whether that could hurt him in the NFL in terms of dealing with all the attention that comes from being the quarterback and a face of a franchise. Dungy said Mariota can grow into that role and said that it wouldn't be a factor unless Mariota ends up in "New York or Philadelphia."

Asked what he would do if he were GM of Tampa Bay and had the No. 1 pick, Dungy responded, "I'm taking Marcus Mariota in a heartbeat and excited to have him."



Earlier in the show, Mariota -- who won the Heisman Trophy in almost-historic fashion Saturday night -- said he hadn't made any decision about turning pro. He said his parents would help him make the decision and said there are "a whole lot of factors" in play. He said staying in school would mean "another year to get better" and another year to enjoy what he called "the college experience." If Mariota does remain in school, he would play next fall as a graduate student.

One AFC college scouting director recently told NFL Media's Albert Breer that he expects to give Mariota a significantly higher grade than he gave Robert Griffin III in 2012; Griffin was the No. 2 pick in that draft. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote last week that Mariota "has all of the tools to be a dynamic offensive weapon" in the NFL.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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