Tony Dungy: Marcus Mariota is the next Aaron Rodgers
Marcus Mariota was already believed to be a future first-round pick entering the football season, but he has improved his stock and is even looking like a future No. 1 overall pick. In fact, former Super Bowl-winning coach turned analyst Tony Dungy says he believes Mariota is not only a great No. 1 pick, but also the next Aaron Rodgers.
Dungy was a guest on “The Dan Patrick Show” Monday and was asked for his opinion on the Oregon quarterback.
“I promise you this: Marcus Mariota is a fantastic player,” Dungy said. “He’s going to be a great pro. He can throw from the pocket. I watched him in practice, I watched him in training camp for three years when my son was at Oregon.”
Dungy’s son, Eric, attended Oregon before leaving for South Florida. He was a year ahead of Mariota, meaning the older Dungy saw the Heisman Trophy winner many times. He’s seen enough of Mariota to compare him to Rodgers, who is a Super Bowl MVP and three-time Pro Bowler.
“Not only is he going to be a great quarterback, he’s going to be a great person — face of the franchise — for whoever takes him. I think this is Aaron Rodgers in the waiting.”
One concern Patrick expressed over Mariota is the quarterback’s shyness. Patrick wondered whether the quarterback would be able to handle the media demands of the NFL. Dungy said that depends on what team drafts the QB.
“It could be if you go to New York or some place where there’s just so much on you. But if he’s like Peyton Manning and he goes to an Indianapolis or Tampa Bay, he’s going to be perfect. And he’s going to be fine and he’ll grow into that.
“But he has no issues in front of the team. He has no issues being the leader that you need to be. That media stuff will come as long as it’s not a market that eats you up like New York or Philly.”
In the end, the decision for whom to draft at No. 1 is an easy choice for Dungy: “I’m taking Marcus Mariota in a heartbeat and I’m excited to have him.”
Mariota can run, throw from the pocket and he has great size. He seems to have the full package. And as we saw from his emotional Heisman speech, Mariota seems to have strong character.