Marcus Mariota trained under Kevin O’Connell in San Diego once his Oregon career ended. The two spent hours upon hours together until O’Connell became the quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns.
Now, the Browns are rumored to be interested in trading their two first-round picks to select Mariota with the second overall choice. Neither Browns coach Mike Pettine nor general manager Ray Farmer shot down the rumors this week.
“All the situations, you kind of play in your head,” Mariota said at the Scouting Combine. “It’s totally out of our control. We won’t know until draft day. That would be an awesome opportunity. I’d love to play for the Browns. For right now, you can’t really control those things, so I try not to worry about them.”
The Browns drafted Brandon Weeden in the first round in 2012 and Johnny Manziel in the first round in 2014. They signed Josh McCown in free agency. Still, they remain among the teams in need of a franchise quarterback.
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Is Mariota a franchise quarterback? He played in a spread offense, making the evaluation more difficult for NFL scouts.
“There’s a transition for any college player coming to the NFL,” Tampa Bay Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. “And in Marcus’ case, they run an offense that most teams in the league don’t run. But I’ve seen him scrambling around, making decisions and, for the most part, making the throws that we’re making in the league.”
Mariota made 41 starts in three seasons, with a 66.8 completion percentage, 10,796 yards, 105 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He admits, though, that he will have a learning curve after not huddling since high school and not playing under center while at Oregon.
“For any rookie quarterback it’s going to be an adjustment stepping up to this new level,” Mariota said. “I’m going to continue to absorb as much as I can, learn from all the people I can and do my best in whatever situation I get into.”
Mariota, though, insists he is up for the challenge.
“There’s a purpose of why I’m here … and that’s because I love the game,” he said. “I want to be part of this game; I want to be part of this game for a long time. My motivation isn’t to prove anybody wrong. My motivation is to make a dream come true for me.”
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760