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Mariota face of Titans; team’s third first-round QB

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have been searching for a franchise quarterback for 10 years — ever since they traded Steve McNair to Baltimore in 2005.

For the third time in the first round, the Titans hope they found that man. They chose Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday night, right behind Tampa Bay’s selection of Jameis Winston.

The Titans fielded trade offers from a number of teams but did not find an offer satisfactory enough to move them off Mariota at No. 2.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt quickly said ariota moves to the top of the depth chart ahead of Zach Mettenberger.

But first, of course, they will test Mariota’s football acumen as he and Whisenhunt will have to find the right mix of the coach’s vertical passing system against the spread offense that Mariota operated at Oregon.

“You’ve got to push him,” Whisenhunt said. “You’ve got to challenge him, but obviously there are some things he does well and we’ll incorporate those into what we’re doing.

“It’s gonna be a little bit of blend, but he’s a talented young man. He 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.”

Mariota, too, is eager to get started and find common ground within the Titans’ offense.

“For me, I’m gonna to my best to try and do some of everything. I’m gonna be the player that I’ve always been and do whatever is asked of me,” Mariota said. “Coach Whisenhunt is going to have his offense and his complexities of his system and I’m gonna do my best to execute it. I won’t change the type of player I am. Hopefully, we’ll continue to find success and execute well.”

Mariota immediately becomes the face of the franchise after winning the Heisman Trophy in 2014. Tennessee has to hope that he can adapt quickly to being an NFL quarterback after first-round misses on VinceYoung in 2006 and Jake Locker in 2011.

“I think any question that you’re going to be faced when you’re talking about a quarterback is how they process things,” Whisenhunt said. “To me, the hardest thing about playing that position is being able to diagnose what a defense is doing, what you have do to try to counter that and then be able to do that all within a matter of a few seconds and get the ball accurately to the right spot if you’re throwing it.”

As for what Whisenhunt will do to make Mariota fit, he said, “We’ve already started working on that. We’ll have a plan.”


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