Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Week 1 Rookie Report: Was Mariota really perfect?

Photo credit: NFL Draft Diamonds
Rarely does the first week of the NFL season give us a matchup between the top two picks in the NFL Draft, but the 2015 schedulemakers did just that, pitting No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans. To the winner go the spoils, they say, and the winner is one of four rookies Chris Tripodi takes a look at in 2015’s inaugural Rookie Report, along with the league’s newest electric running back and two Pac-12 defenders who made an impact for their new teams.

Marcus Mariota (QB-Ten)

A Heisman Trophy, gaudy statistics and a clean off-the-field resume weren’t enough to get Marcus Mariota drafted over Jameis Winston, but if Sunday was any indication, that could prove to be a mistake by the Bucs. Draft Insider was one of the few places you could find Mariota rated ahead of Winston in pre-draft rankings, with the former Oregon quarterback sitting one spot ahead of the Florida State star at No. 3. Mariota’s debut was a smashing success, as he went 13-for-16 for 209 yards and four touchdowns and became the first rookie since Fran Tarkenton in 1961 to toss at least four scores.

After consecutive incompletions to start the game, Mariota threaded the needle between two Bucs to Delanie Walker over the middle for a 22-yard gain before hitting Kendall Wright with a 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown strike. While Mariota had Walker eyed from the moment he received the shotgun snap, he put enough velocity on his pass and threw high so Walker could grab it without either defender having much chance to make a play on the ball. The score to Wright came on a play-action pass from the shotgun, which froze the linebacker and gave Mariota an immediate window to hit Wright in stride and create the opportunity for yards after the catch.

Read the rest at Draft Insider

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