- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Continuing to look ahead to the top prospects of the 2014 draft, Mel Kiper looks at the top quarterback and cornerback prospects.
Unlike yesterday's post, which enjoyed a wealth of Pac-12 players on the running backs and safeties list, there is only one name each for the QBs and CBs. Both are from Oregon.
Here's Kiper's take:
You watch the Oregon offense and you're not just seeing Mariota play pitch and catch on short routes, or simply flinging it across the line of scrimmage as the Ducks stretch out tired defenses and force them to tackle. They take their shots, and they can because Mariota sees the whole field, and has the arm to deliver strikes.
He completed almost 70 percent of his throws last year, and they went for 8.0 yards per attempt. I also like the way he mixes up his targets, using wideouts, tight ends and his backs as the situation demands. His athleticism and ability to make reads as a runner are pluses, but Mariota can also get it done with his arm.
Surprised to see Brett Hundley absent from this list -- but it's still early. Others who could make appearances are Arizona State's Taylor Kelly. You may remember from yesterday's post that KC Joyner is particularly high on the ASU quarterback.
Hundley does make an appearance in another Insider article, however. ESPN's Travis Haney is looking at quarterbacks who could have "Make of Break" seasons. Hundley is one of the QBs he breaks down -- and he places him in the "make" category.
This is an incredibly gifted guy who is bulking up and maintaining his athleticism. The Bruins were surprise Pac-12 title-game competitors in Jim Mora's first year, so Hundley could flourish in his second year in the system. Mazzone sure seems sold, and scouts could follow as they watch him this fall.
He also places Mariota in the "Make" category.
In terms of size, Mariota is precisely what the NFL wants. If he even replicates what he did a year ago -- a 68.5 completion percentage and plus-26 in TDs-to-INTs -- NFL teams will begin to salivate to have someone like him. I know some coaches who believe he could become the name in the coming college season (as in the Heisman race) and draft lead-up. He's that big and gifted.
Extremely good when the play is in front of him, Ekpre-Olomu is explosive out of his backpedal and will close quickly to deliver a big hit or jump a throw to take it the other way. He has good ball skills and led the conference in passes defensed last season.
Also a wide receiver and running back in high school, he's a physical corner who understands routes and will step up to make tackles or put his hat on the ball.