By David F. Cohen
Twenty-one days from now in a room in Chicago, the NFL draft will take place.
And the question on the lips of every Eagles fan is:
How can Birds’ Supreme Leader Chip Kelly maneuver to draft the highly prized quarterback from the 20th position the team now has.
A highly respected NFL personnel man was mentally thumbing through Mariota comparisons this week when he found what seemed to be an appropriate box for the Oregon star.
It sounded like a glowing comparison. But in what may be the only negative Rodgers analogy that still exits, this is what the personnel man said: “If [Mariota] doesn’t go in the top six picks, he could do an Aaron Rodgers,” he said.
This was a dark nod toward draft torture. Specifically, the 2005 first round, when Rodgers did a slow bake on national television as his draft position slid from a potential No. 1 pick to the 24th selection.
Few believe this could happen to Mariota. Falling that hard?
“If he gets past the top six, it could be out of the top 10 to whatever point the Eagles trade up for him,” the personnel man said.
In the grand sense of anything-can-happen, this could be a realistic scenario. But in most quarters, it doesn’t fit with what many NFL sources have been saying about Mariota in recent days. Then again, the one absolute about Mariota right now is that there is no absolute about his destination later this month. While all signs point to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having zeroed in on Florida State’s Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick, far fewer have certainty about Mariota.
Indeed, various media reports have connected the Ducks’ star quarterback to five of the top seven teams in the draft, including Tampa Bay, the Tennessee Titans, the Washington Redskins, theNew York Jets and the Chicago Bears. Two other franchises – the San Diego Chargers and Eagles – have been forwarded as potential trade suitors for Mariota as well.
The public picture is so muddled over Mariota he could be connected with half the teams in the draft by the time the selection process kicks off. He’s this year’s biggest draft domino – one of the players whose uncertain position could change boards, either with a high selection or a slide.