Mariota rises to No. 2 in Top 32
Oregon QB behind only Clowney in ranking of best 2014 NFL prospects
The race to be the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL draft is shaping up to be a very interesting one.
Since the first edition of these rankings this season, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater has been the No. 1 QB on our board and the second-ranked prospect overall behind South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. That has changed this week, with Oregon's Marcus Mariota jumping Bridgewater to take over the No. 2 spot.
This change has nothing to do with Bridgewater's play so far this season, and everything to do with Mariota's rise. Mariota is still very raw, and there's a lot we need to learn about him as a prospect (I need to watch more tape on him to get a larger sampling of his "NFL throws"), but he has tremendous potential. He'll face a very good opponent this week in UCLA, a team that has a top QB prospect of its own in Brett Hundley.
How Mariota fares against a Bruins defense that is the best he's seen so far this season, and then two weeks later against a Stanford defense that is likely the best he'll face all season (and the unit that forced him into his worst game a year ago), will go a long way toward determining his draft stock, should he decide to leave early.
We take a look at the draft status of all three QBs, as well as introduce four newcomers in this updated ranking of the Top 32 NFL prospects for the 2014 draft.
(Note: The scouting reports will largely stay the same for each edition of these rankings, but we'll update as needed based on recent performances and upcoming matchups. Draft-eligible non-seniors are noted with an asterisk.)
Analysis: Clowney had five tackles in the Gamecocks' loss to Tennessee on Saturday. Despite his modest statistics this season, based on everything I've seen on tape Clowney has played with great effort and been very disruptive. He possesses a rare blend of size, athleticism, upper-body power and playmaking instincts.
Analysis: Mariota moves ahead of Teddy Bridgewater this week as the No. 1 quarterback in these rankings. I did an in-depth scouting report on him last week, but in short, he has a very quick release and good arm strength, elite speed as a runner and he has shown significant improvement so far this season with his accuracy. Not only does he have the explosiveness as a runner to make him effective in the zone-read, it's clear on tape his ability to make several "wow" throws -- fitting passes into tight windows downfield, showing good anticipation, etc. He's still raw, but his potential is through the roof.
To read Todd McShay's full ranking of the Top 32 prospects for the 2014 NFL draft, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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