NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Titans drafted Mariota second overall Thursday night in round one of the 2015 NFL Draft after a day full of reported trade offers.
Mariota, his family and friends gathered at the Saint Louis Alumni Clubhouse in Honolulu to await the call. The event was closed to the public.
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“It’s tough to really put in all the emotions and the words. It was a lot of excitement, I was able to talk to Coach Whisenhunt and the rest of the Tennessee Titans coaching staff. They were really excited so it’s a little ways away from home but I’m excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m just blessed to have the opportunity,” he said.
As for what they spoke about during that phone call, Mariota said, “It was more just talking about the future and getting ready to make that move to Nashville and they told me, ‘I hope you’re ready for country music,’ and all that stuff. It was just a lot of conversation and excitement.”
The Bears, Browns, Jets and especially Philadelphia Eagles were all reportedly interested in what it would take to pry away the pick to take Mariota.
The former Oregon Duck had staggering stags his senior season throwing for 4,454 yards, 42 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. He also ran for 770 yards and 15 more touchdowns last season winning the Associated Press Player of the Year Award, Davey O’Brien Trophy and the Maxwell Award.
Mariota has the size to play quarterback in the NFL at 6-foot-4, 219 pounds, and the Titans said before the draft they consider Mariota very, very smart.
The biggest criticism Mariota has faced is the spread offense he commanded in college at Oregon and if he can translate to the NFL.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has said Mariota will be expected to be the Titans day-one starter this season if he was taken second overall.
He also acknowledged the Titans would want him to develop as an “NFL quarterback” but would incorporate some of the things he did well in college.
Whisenhunt addressed working with a quarterback who played a spread offense and getting him to succeed in the NFL.
“You gotta push him, you gotta challenge him but obviously there’s some things he does well and we’ll incorporate those into things we’re doing,” Whisenhunt said.
“It’s gonna be a little bit of a blend but he’s a talented young man, has a very good feel for the position and how to process those things and we’re excited to get a chance to work with him.”
General Manager Ruston Webster said the Titans had been targeting Mariota for a while.
“I think his intelligence, which is very important for the position, was clear from the first time we met him and spent time with him,” said Webster.
Mariota will be the face of the franchise and responsible for turning around a team that went just 2-14 last season.
This is only the second time in team history the Titans have picked second overall. In 1984, they picked Nebraska tackle Dean Steinkuhler when they were still the Houston Oilers.