While most unassuming fans tuned in as the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes took center stage in college football’s National Championship, little did they know Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was suffering from a sprain of his right throwing shoulder during the contest. The Ducks offense appeared stagnant throughout much of the game and looked drastically different from the top offense during the regular season. This lack of success was due in part to Martiota’s injury sustained when he was driven to the turf by Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa and lingered throughout the National Championship.
“Right now we’re still making that decision, whether to throw at the Combine. I had to kinda rest about a week-and-a-half,” Mariota said, via the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “I sprained the AC joint. But now, I’m able to throw. Feels good.”
Mariota’s injury could be a major excuse why he would not throw in the upcoming NFL combine, but the junior quarterback hasn’t yet ruled out the possibility. Typically, most of the top quarterbacks wait to throw for professional scouts during their pro days, where the player can script his own throws, play on his home turf, and also throw to his normal receivers. These three incentives should be influential enough to not let Mariota throw during the combine.
Unless Mariota completely flops during the combine and pro-day, most NFL scouts expect him to be the consensus number one overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a minor shoulder injury shouldn’t affect his draft stock. There have been rumors floated of a potential reunion between Mariota and his former head coach Chip Kelly, now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Speculators guess it would take a pocket full of assets for Philadelphia to score Mariota, similar to the Redskins-Rams swap that landed Robert Griffin III in Washington.
But Kelly was recently awarded a new job title that gives him autonomy on player personnel decisions, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go after “the most talented player [he] ever coached in college.” Now that Mariota is nursing a shoulder injury — one that isn’t serious where long-term is concerned, his performance at Pro Day could still impact his draft stock by throwing rope to the prospects beneath him on the draft boards, and making it easier for his former coach to move up and grab him.
*Section Photo credit to Christopher Barth, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Getty Images