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Washington's Chris Petersen: Marcus Mariota will be elite in NFL

Washington and Oregon are bitter Pac-12 rivals on and off the football field, but Washington head coach Chris Petersen still has plenty of nice things to say about former Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota.

"He's the best player that I've seen in a long, long time," Petersen said on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" Tuesday. "I've watched him on tape for a long time. I've faced him in person. I'm not sure what there's any debate about. The guy is spectacular. There is no doubt he is going to crush it in the NFL."

Petersen has been a college coach for a little less than 30 years, so that's high praise given all the quarterback play he's seen.

Mariota did help Oregon throttle Washington when the two teams met last season (Mariota had 336 yards passing and two touchdowns vs. the Huskies), and Petersen certainly isn't the only one who thinks highly of Mariota. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock vaulted Mariota ahead of presumptive No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston in his latest positional rankings.

"I saw it firsthand. Not just one game, but over and over and over how this guy produces," Petersen said. "There's no doubt he's going to be an elite NFL player and will have a spectacular NFL career."

However, there are plenty of coaches and analysts around the league that believe Mariota might need some time to transition to the next level before he's ready to play at a high level.

There's no consensus on where Mariota will land in the mock drafts of NFL Media analysts, but speculation that he could end up going as high as No. 2 overall seems to be heating up. If you trust Petersen's evaluation, Mariota would certainly be worth that pick for the holders of that second overall pick, the Tennessee Titans, or a team that trades up to the spot.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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