Potential Chicago Bears Draft Targets: Marcus Mariota

We are currently profiling 10 of the players that the Chicago Bears could be eye-balling with the number seven overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. We’ll be evaluating where they would fit in with the Bears, what teams could potentially pick them off ahead of Chicago, and ultimately whether or not we feel the Bears should take them.

So as not to spoil our mock draft, we’ll go alphabetically through the list, and today we find ourselves looking at a very intriguing NFL prospect as we examine University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Details:

Coming out of Oregon as a junior, Mariota has accomplished a lot in his college career. His 2014 season with the Ducks was one of the most remarkable campaigns in recent memory as the quarterback tossed 42 touchdown passes and threw only four interceptions on the season. That performance was good enough to earn him the Heisman Trophy, and it also helped guide the Ducks to the National Championship Game.

Mariota also showed plenty of ability with his feet, rushing for 15 touchdowns and catching a receiving touchdown during the season as well.

What He Would Bring to the Bears:

Jay Cutler is going to be on the roster for the next two years unless Ryan Pace can move him to another club or decides that he’s going to eat his salary, so Mariota would likely be riding the bench for at least his first year in the league. There would be a possibility of course that head coach John Fox would open up the competition for the starting job, and in that case, Mariota could either push Cutler to new heights, or force Fox’s hand and steal the job from Cutler.

In any case, Mariota would give the Bears a genuine shot at a franchise quarterback, and he has a wide and varied skillset to draw from. He has a solid arm and quick feet, and he makes great decisions with the ball. That would be a marked change from Cutler’s gun-slinger approach, and it could be a boon for the Bears’ offense.

Other Teams That Could Target Him:

The odds of Mariota getting to the Bears at number seven in the draft are slim. The Tennessee Titans could well decide to take him with the number two pick (a possibility that has grown even more likely after Jake Locker elected to retire), and Washington could also snag him at number five. The New York Jets could also grab him with the sixth pick, and even though Jacksonville and Oakland wouldn’t take him, there’s always a possibility that they could trade the pick to another team in need of a quarterback.

Teams like the Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, and Buffalo Bills would all be contenders to move up if the price is right, and it would be silly to rule out the Philadelphia Eagles, with Chip Kelly potentially wanting to bring in his former quarterback at Oregon.

Should the Bears Take Him?

If things fall their way and Mariota is on the board at number seven, it would be really difficult for the Bears not to take him. Cutler is going to be the quarterback in Chicago for a maximum of two more seasons, and if the Bears are able to turn their fortunes around next season, they may not get another shot at a top one or two quarterback in a draft class.

There are questions about Mariota’s overall arm strength, and concerns that he won’t work in a traditional offense are valid as well. Can he go under center and be as effective as he was out of the shotgun at Oregon? That is a tough question to answer, but when looking at what he brings to the table, the Bears could do a heck of a lot worse when looking for Cutler’s ultimate replacement.

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