Big Board has big moves
Marcus Mariota edges toward the top; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is back on the board
If you hear people refer to Marcus Mariota as a "running quarterback," tell them to watch Oregon play sometime. The redshirt sophomore is one of the most efficient passers in the country, just as he was last season, completes more than 62 percent of his passes, and now has 19 touchdown passes and exactly zero interceptions. And even though the Ducks run the ball a ton, he has averaged nearly 300 yards a game through the air. That Mariota can run is what makes him special, because he uses his great athleticism first to maximize plays as a passer -- he clearly understands he can throw the ball a lot faster than he can run it.
His continued improvement in accuracy and decision-making is, however, complemented by his ability to occasionally take off and out-run even the fastest players on a defense. He is averaging just seven carries per game, but he gets more than 10 yards per. With his draft stock soaring, the question will be whether he feels ready to enter the 2014 draft, or wait another year. Again, he'd only be a redshirt junior in 2014.
As always, scouting reports remain similar week to week, with updates on matchups. Asterisks denote juniors; two asterisks denote redshirt sophomores.
He looked more like himself on Saturday against Tennessee, and had 2.5 tackles for loss early. Tennessee was creative in trying to avoid letting him ruin plays. Clowney has great strength and quickness as well as strong hands to quickly shed blocks. He's not just an edge rusher looking to quickly turn the corner, as he beats average tackles both inside and outside, which causes many double-teams. His quickness can get him in trouble with overpursuit, but that's a good problem to have.
He's now being pushed by Mariota, who will be in some big games coming up. Bridgewater has looked comfortable most of the time, but some of that just raises questions about the competition. He does have great poise and increased polish. He moves his eyes quickly and often scans the whole field. When he sees a target, 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.
He could end the season with more than 20 tackles for loss. He can get pinned by bigger blockers, but it's impossible to keep him blocked consistently, and I love his pursuit when the play runs away from him. A former fullback, he has a powerful lower half and has a long frame and reach. Had 13.5 sacks last season and could have left for the NFL, but if he's able to grow with another year of seasoning at the position, it's only going to make him a more attractive talent.
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