INDIANAPOLIS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Marcus Mariota looked awfully comfortable on center stage Thursday.
He had the deliberate walk, the calm demeanor and the perfectly plain answers all down. All the Oregon quarterback has to do now is prove it will translate to success in the NFL.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner spent roughly 15 minutes answering questions Thursday at the NFL’s annual scouting extravaganza and responded with a no-frills approach that had to impress the decision-makers who are trying to decide who goes No. 1 in April.
“As a competitor, any person would tell you that they’re the best,” Mariota said. “I truly believe that in myself. We’ll see whatever decision is made. I’ve got to go in with that mentality.”
There are few questions about Mariota’s resume.
He threw for 4,454 yards, 42 touchdowns and had four interceptions in 2014, leading Oregon to the national championship game and winning college football’s most prized individual trophy. In 2013, he threw for 3,665 yards with 31 TDs and four interceptions.
However, there are concerns about how well the spread offense he thrived in at Oregon will prepare for him for NFL-style offenses. Even Mariota acknowledges there will be challenges in making the transition, things that might not seem so complicated to the average fan.
“I haven’t huddled in a while,” he said. “It seems like a little detail, but that is kind of a big thing. There are other things as well: Three, five, seven-step drops under center. That’s all stuff I’ve been able to work on the last month.”
Mariota was supposed to share the stage with Jameis Winston one more time Thursday.
Instead, because of longer-than-anticipated medical exam, Winston’s appearance at Lucas Oil Stadium was delayed until Friday. That’s when the 2013 Heisman winner from Florida State is now expected to speak.
Without Winston around, Mariota had the white-hot spotlight to himself even if that’s not exactly the way he wanted it.
Robert Griffin II and Andrew Luck seemed to enjoy themselves in Indy, Tim Tebow welcomed the attention and Johnny Manziel tried to create a more serious persona.
Mariota stuck to his low-key approach.
“I guess you could say (the doubts) are a little bit of motivation, but it’s not the reason why I’m doing it,” he said. “There’s a purpose of why I’m here and why I’m standing in front of you and that’s because I love the game, I want to be part of this game, I want to be part of this game for a long time. My motivation isn’t to prove anybody wrong. My motivation is to make a dream come true.”
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