The Tennessee Titans are reporting via their web site today that super bowl winning coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden is picking Marcus Mariota to win the 2015 NFL Rookie of the Year award. Gruden made the prediction via a conference call on Wednesday.
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Gruden spent time with the Heisman Winning Oregon star in his televised Quarterback Camp that runs up to the NFL Draft, but says that although he was impressed with Mariota then but since watching the rookie in a couple of preseason games, he has become even more impressed.
“I have seen him, and I think his mental toughness has been on display, No.1,’’ Gruden said. “You saw him turn the ball over against Atlanta, a couple times I think, in the first 10-15 plays. And then you saw him string together some really good football. I saw him fall way behind on the road at Kansas City, then he hung in there and engineered a couple of really good drives. I like the way he is playing under center. Ken Whisenhunt has put him under the center a lot. It looks like he is in rhythm, he is doing some really good things and I think he has impressed a lot of people with the way he has thrown the football.”
Don Banks from Sports Illustrated has made similar predictions.
Although Mariota has spent the majority of his preseason snaps working from the pocket, and only ran a couple of times, Gruden said “wait until he starts using his legs”.
Mariota ran the ball for 2237 yards that included 29 touchdowns in Oregon. Many of the linebackers who have seen him run in camp were all amazed at how quickly he gets up the field.
“A lot of people are shocked that he hasn’t taken off and run yet. I think that is when you are going to see the greatness of Marcus Mariota,’’ Gruden said. “He’s a double-edged sword, he’s a great competitor, and I like the way they are bringing him along. I just think Mariota and his skill set, the deception that he’ll bring with the zone read and the scrambling ability will be a real tool for him.
The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach praised the Titans for improving the offensive line during training camp, but said he was concerned about the defense.
"“(The defense) has a lot to prove there,’’ Gruden said. “And who is the running back? Who are the receivers? Some of the skill set needs to step up as well.”"
Gruden said he’s been wrong before, but has no problem with picking Marcus Mariota to win the 2015 NFL Rookie of the Year Award at season’s end.
He says he has no doubts about Mariota and is hoping that he can prove him right this time!