Pac-12 QBs rise on Big Board
Both UCLA's Brett Hundley and Oregon's Marcus Mariota move up
For many, the college quarterback who had the most impressive weekend was Johnny Manziel. I was certainly impressed. Manziel threw for 464 yards, ran for another 98 and, despite his team's loss, not only reinforced beliefs about his NFL prospects -- Manziel's status actually hasn't changed much going back to last season -- he even raised major questions about the Alabama defense.
But Manziel is not the quarterback I'm adding to the Big Board this week.
That would be Marcus Mariota. The Oregon QB, like Manziel a redshirt sophomore, threw for 456 yards against Tennessee, and did so in a game in which I don't think he was really all that sharp. Mariota is a gifted athlete, but is also showing clear strides as a passer able to anticipate, deliver on time, work his eyes across the field, and take apart defenses without even using his blazing speed as a runner. He really could end up a top-10 pick if this progression continues.
As always, scouting reports remain similar week to week, with updates on matchups. Asterisks denote juniors; two asterisks denote redshirt sophomores.
He's really in a peculiar bubble right now. If he doesn't have multiple sacks, you hear people asking what's wrong. Give the other teams some credit. They're working hard to keep Clowney from taking over. Clowney combines exceptional strength and quickness, as well as strong hands, to quickly shed blocks. He's not just an edge-bender, as he does a great job of beating tackles inside. He can occasionally play a little high, which allows teams to run at him, but he has improved there and is nowhere near a liability.
He got off to a bit of a slow start on Saturday, but recovered well. The competition plays a role, but Bridgewater rarely looks overwhelmed, and comfortably works his eyes across the field. When he sees a target -- or more likely, a receiver who will come open -- he has a quick release, plenty of arm strength and good ball placement. I really like how he calibrates his throws, not using too much arm when he doesn't need to.
At his best, Nix has the rare size and skills to handle a zero-technique role -- Nix can keep multiple blockers occupied and make life easy for linebackers cleaning up against the run -- but he's not limited to that because he can really move, at least a lot better than you'd expect from a guy who can play at 340 pounds.
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