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Does Tebow signing eliminate need for Eagles to draft Mariota?

Updated on April 21, 2015

Surely, I can't be serious.

Oh, but I am.
And don't call me Shirley.
Let's dig in, shall we?

The Philadelphia Eagles need a quarterback.
Since trading Nick Foles to St. Louis back in March, the depth chart in Philly has been a mess.
At that time, Chip Kelly's Eagles only had former Oklahoma star, Sam Bradford, and a couple of USC Trojans, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley.
Many people speculated that Chip Kelly would trade up in the 2015 NFL Draft to select QB, Marcus Mariota.
Not only was Mariota the quarterback that Kelly found success with at Oregon, but he fits the offensive scheme in Philadelphia perfectly.
There's no question that Mariota faces a learning curve when he joins the NFL, as all draft prospects do, but for the Heisman trophy winner, it's a little more complicated.
Mariota has only run Oregon's gimmicky spread offense, and has no experience under center in a true pro-style offense. If Mariota were drafted by Tennessee or Tampa Bay, he'd likely be trying to learn how to play pro-ball while carrying the weight of a bad franchise on his shoulders. It would be like getting a job overseas and starting with only a very basic understanding of the language.
Mariota is not the first player in NFL history to have this problem.
Terrelle Pryor, Troy Smith, Dennis Dixon, and Tyrod Taylor are all examples of guys who couldn't find success in the pros because they couldn't conform to the pro-style offense.
Not to say it never works.
Alex Smith, Russell Wilson, Michael Vick, and even Joe Flacco are examples of guys who found success after playing in an unconventional offense in college.
Of course, that's not the most famous example I could use.
For if we're discussing unconventional quarterbacks who had to try to adjust to a pro-style offense in the NFL, no name is bigger than Tim Tebow,
What can you say about Tim Tebow that hasn't already been said?
Well, there are two arguments.
One is that Tim Tebow has everything you dream of in a starting quarterback. He's 6'3, 230 pounds, and runs a quick 4.7 forty. His faith keeps him in high spirits, out of trouble off the field, and on the field, he's an incredible leader. The way he is able to take off and just run people over is a trait you rarely see in quarterbacks, if ever.
The other is that the dude has no idea how to play football at all. He fails to grasp the intricacies of the pro-style offense, his throwing motion is terrible, and he's never shown the ability to make all the throws despite being very physically gifted. It could also be argued that the media attention and hype that his presence brings is a setback for teams. He has droves of fans that follow him from team to team, and put crazy pressure on established starters. (Just ask Kyle Orton).
He's an enigmatic player, to be sure.
With his size, strength, and speed, many teams have suggested that he just make the switch to tight end or fullback, but to Tebow's credit, he maintains that he will be a successful quarterback in the NFL someday.
I had said to my friend earlier this off-season that Philadelphia would be a perfect fit for Tebow.
The fast-paced, unconventional offense is straight out of college anyway, and if he has spent the last two years improving as much as his agents claim he has, he'll fit in well.
The offense that Chip Kelly runs is strange in that it might be the only offense in the NFL that doesn't really require a superstar.
Sure, it helps, but in all reality, the offense is built to exploit exhaustion. If you get a good drive going, you wear out the defenders, and try to cause explosive plays by going after exhausted or mismatched defensive players, it doesn't really matter who is out there. You just need good enough athletes to keep it going.
And that's especially true for the QB, who needs to be quick enough to run the option.
Well, on Monday the 20th of April, the year of our lord, 2015, the Eagles took my advice and signed the controversial play-caller.
Now the Eagles depth chart is even wilder but somehow makes more sense.
You've got Sanchez, the experienced back-up who has proven he can guide the offense when he needs to, but won't get you a championship.
You've got Bradford, a guy who will probably get injured before I publish this piece who has fantastic accuracy to go with a questionable arm that's never quite lived up to the pre-draft hype.
You've got Barkley, a guy who has looked absolutely dreadful in all of his appearances and may not even be on a NFL roster when Week One kicks off.
And then you've got Tebow, a hype-machine who fits the mold but has a lot to prove.

So... The depth chart probably looks like Bradford, Sanchez, Tebow, and then Barkley.
That makes sense.
How many times that changes between now and September, Chip only knows.
Here's the problem.
Everything that's wrong with Tebow...
Is essentially wrong with Mariota.
True, Mariota doesn't have the cult following that Tebow does, but... Let's do a little comparing.
Both are mobile QBs who played in an unconventional, simplified offense.
Both have mechanical issues that need to be fixed.
Both have some accuracy issues.
Neither will get in trouble off the field.
Both are leaders in their own way.
I mean, they both won the Heisman.

I'm not saying that Mariota is a bad QB, but he'll definitely need a lot of work to succeed in the NFL, just like Tebow.
Reports from his workouts and from NFL scouts say he's tightened up his game and worked really hard to improve.
I'm not sure that's true, and I'll have to see it to believe it, but Mariota isn't coming easy.
Or cheap.
The reality is that Marcus Mariota won't be on the board when the Eagles pick at #20.
If we're being honest, I doubt he'll be there at #10.
Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington, New York, and St. Louis may all be in the market for a QB, and that's before people start talking about trades.
In a relatively shallow QB class, Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Oakland will all have plenty of offers if they're listening.
Plenty of offers.
Which means that if Philadelphia is going to trade up, they're going to have to put a lot on the table.
It's not like the 20th pick is as sexy as number 10.
The Eagles would have to shell out multiple quality picks, as well as perhaps a football player or two, just to grab him.
I'm not saying it's impossible, especially with the off-season Chip Kelly has had where he's proven he's willing to trade anybody if you name the right price (or Oregon player).
I'm just saying... it's expensive.
Here's my reasoning.
The dropoff between Tebow and Mariota isn't all that steep.
Realistically, Tebow gives you a cheaper, if marginally slower alternative.
You've got a guy who has played in the NFL before, even winning a playoff game, who has had time to improve, and will come without giving up a draft pick or becoming a huge cap hit.
I'm not saying he's the answer in Philly, or that he should even play, but if you're going to use an unconventional option QB... Why not go with the cheaper, more experienced option, and then build your team with the cap space and draft picks you save?
Why take the risk of throwing everything but the kitchen sink out the window to draft a guy, only to have him fail when you can get similar production from a guy who won't hurt your franchise at all?


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    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 

      3 years ago from The Great Midwest

      I knew the pigskin prophet would make his way back to the pro game. Tim Tebow is a football playa! That's all that counts. But, it doesn't matter who the Eagles add, they're not gonna win out over "the boys."


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