By Tom Powers
Only four days remain before the NFL draft — April 30 in Chicago — so let’s see where we are in the Marcus Mariota bake-off.
Bill Belichick seems to have handed the mad scientist baton off to Chip Kelly.
What did Kelly do this offseason? Well, let’s see. He looted the Legion of Boom by stealing Byron Maxwell and turned DeMarco Murray against the hated Cowboys. On top of that, he traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford and shipped LeSean McCoy off to Buffalo.
All of that leads us to Mariota. We all know how much Kelly enjoys stockpiling players from Oregon. Kelly brought his fast-paced style to Philly, so Mariota wouldn’t be in a vastly different offense than the one he ran at Oregon. Mariota played with a million Darren Sproles types in college and slot receiver Jordan Matthews seems like a good fit for his skill set. The Eagles don’t have a home run threat now that Jeremy Maclin is gone, but Mariota didn’t throw many deep passes at Oregon anyway.
Bradford’s contract is up at the end of the year, so there is incentive to pursue Mariota. Barring an unexpected slide, Mariota will be gone by the time the Eagles pick. Packaging Bradford with the 20th pick would certainly spark trade interest, but it may take more than that to move into the top five. Think of all the picks the Redskins gave up in 2012 just to move up four spots to draft RG3.
Kelly’s lust for Mariota might be the worst kept secret in football, so the Eagles won’t have much leverage.
The odds seem to be stacked against the Eagles, but we’ve learned never to count out Kelly. He’s pulled out all the stops before and he’ll do it again.
If Kelly decides he really wants Mariota on draft day, he’ll find a way to get him.