As expected, in advance of tomorrow’s early entry deadline, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota announced today that he’ll enter the 2015 draft, according to the school’s website. Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com first reported (via Twitter) that the redshirt junior would announce his intentions to forgo his final year of college eligibility and turn pro.
Mariota, this season’s Heisman winner, has long been considered the top quarterback – and perhaps the top overall prospect – available, edging out Jameis Winston in the view of many draft experts. This past season at Oregon, Mariota established new career-highs by passing for 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns, along with just four interceptions. The 21-year-old added another 770 yards and 15 TDs on the ground.
While he’s certainly not a lock to be selected first overall, particularly after a somewhat disappointing showing in this week’s championship game against Ohio State, Mariota figures to draw significant interest from the Buccaneers with that No. 1 pick. If Tampa Bay passes, the Titans, Washington, and the Jets are among the other teams near the top of the draft that should consider selecting a QB and figure to take a long look at Mariota.