Photos from Oregon QB Marcus Mariota's private workout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Eugene, Oregon.
Marcus Mariota's private workout on Tuesday took place on his turf, but on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' terms.
Five Buccaneer officials made the 2,500-mile trip from Tampa to Eugene, Oregon on Tuesday morning in order to put Mariota – a potential target for the first-overall draft pick the team will exercise on April 30 – through the paces. With Head Coach Lovie Smith, General Manager Jason Licht and Director of Player Personnel Jon Robinson looking on, Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter and Quarterbacks Coach Mike Bajakian directed a fast-paced, 45-throw session that allowed the former Oregon quarterback to show off his arm strength and footwork.
It was this one-on-one nature of the workout, with the script devised by the team, that added value to an exercise that was, on hand, a very small part in a process that has been going on for months. That Mariota handled the drill well made it even more worthwhile.
"As much as tape as we've watched and as many times as we've met with Marcus, to see him throw live and be right next to him – and us getting to say what throws and what drops, us actually running the workout – there's a lot of value there," said Koetter. "I thought he was outstanding."
Though he took a few shotgun snaps near the end of the sequence, Mariota mostly lined up under center, with fellow draft prospect Hroniss Grasu delivering the ball. Ducks wide receiver Keanon Lowe stood in designated spots to catch Mariota's passes, simulating a variety of outs, slants, digs and deep balls. The throw that drew the most praise was a hard line drive of a deep out, which is a deceptively difficult pass to execute well.
"That's one that not every quarterback in the NFL feels comfortable making," said Koetter. "So we wanted to challenge him. It was great having Coach Smith and Jason here. We only gave him about 45 throws, but we gave him some hard ones."
And they paid attention to Mariota's feet as much as his arm. Koetter requested different types of drops on different passes and sometimes paused the drill to demonstrate the proper steps. Mariota's comfort in a traditional NFL offense and under center are issues on which league scouts are keeping a close eye.
"We wanted to see him under center, taking some play-action drops from similar type plays that he would run if he was to come to the Bucs," said Koetter. "And also, [we wanted] to see his arm strength up-close and personal…but mostly the under-center work."
The Bucs saw it all on Tuesday, and as a private audience. They also spent roughly an hour in a sit-down meeting with Mariota before the on-field workout, further fleshing out their scouting report of the highly-regarded prospect. And then, as quickly as they had arrived in Oregon, the Bucs' party was on the move again, flying out in the direction of Tallahassee, Florida. On Wednesday, the same group will go through the same process with Florida State's Jameis Winston, another young quarterback who could end up as the #1 selection.