Jets personnel took a cross-country trip to get another up-close-and-personal look at quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Coaches and front-office executives flew to Eugene, Oregon, for a private workout Saturday with the Heisman Trophy winner and will travel back to New Jersey on Sunday, according to sources. But it remains to be seen if general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles believe Mariota can be the quarterback they want to lead their team.
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Members of the organization were on hand for Mariota's highly attended but rather underwhelming pro day two weeks ago. The Jets aren't the only team eager to get more face time with the Oregon quarterback, either. According to NFL.com, the Buccaneers will work out Mariota on April 7 before the Chargers conduct their scheduled workout with him on April 15. The Redskins also are looking to set up a visit with Mariota in Ashburn, Virginia.Big BoardNewsday's Big Board: Top 100 NFL draft prospects
While many view Florida State's Jameis Winston as the consensus top pick, draft prognosticators predict that Mariota could go second overall or fall into the Jets' lap at No. 6. And there's always a chance that the Bucs, who hold the No. 1 overall pick, will surprise everyone by selecting Mariota over Winston.
It's no secret that the Jets need better quarterback play than they've been getting. Geno Smith is young but unpredictable. Ryan Fitzpatrick has experience but isn't the future of the franchise.
Is Mariota the answer? Perhaps. The Jets could choose to pull the trigger if he drops to No. 6, but there's also a chance that Maccagnan's "best player available" plan will lead them to select a player not named Mariota -- possibly an edge rusher. Or the Jets could surprise everyone by trading down to help them address other roster needs.
But according to Mel Kiper Jr., it won't be easy for the Jets to pass up Mariota. "Geno Smith has shown flashes. You bring in the veteran Fitzpatrick. But all right, is that enough to close that gap with Tom Brady?" the ESPN draft expert said on a media conference call last week. "You're in a division with [Dolphins quarterback Ryan] Tannehill -- still a work in progress. The Buffalo Bills are trying to figure out their quarterback position. I would say the Jets, it would be hard to pass [Mariota] up."Kiper, Jr. later added: "I don't know how you'd pass him up . . . Tom Brady has probably got another five years in him. And Mariota needs a little bit of time. So Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith would give you time to develop Mariota, who in another two or three years, could be really good."
That may be true. But there's also a chance the Jets won't get to make a call on Mariota with several quarterback-needy teams (Bucs, Titans, Raiders and Redskins) selecting ahead of them.