NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Well done, Marcus Mariota. That's the opinion of ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski when asked about the Titans quarterback's rookie season.
"I saw an ascension of an NFL quarterback as the season went on,'' said Jaworski, a former NFL quarterback who is now known for his film study with ESPN. "I loved Mariota coming out, he was my No.1 ranked quarterback as I transitioned to the NFL.
"He showed me that he is going to have a long career in the National Football League."
Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy at Oregon, broke rookie records for most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370) in his first NFL season in 2015.
He also ran for 252 yards and two touchdowns on 34 attempts, including an 87-yard run for a touchdown against the Jaguars on December 6.
Jaworski, on an ESPN conference call this morning, said the Titans need to protect Mariota better in 2016.
Mariota was sacked 38 times last season, and ended up missing four games with knee injuries.
Earlier this offseason, the Titans signed former Texans center Ben Jones, and the team also re-signed offensive lineman Byron Bell to a one-year deal.
Jaworski believes the Titans should keep building the offensive line. Drafting Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil with the first overall pick in the NFL draft would be a smart move, Jaworski said.
"Clearly, when you have a quarterback like Marcus Mariota, who I believe had a very solid rookie season, you want to make sure he is protected,'' Jaworski said. "Yeah, there will be people who want to talk about other positions, but I am just a firm believer that when you have invested as much as you have at the quarterback position, it is paramount that you keep him healthy. And last year he did not finish the season.
"I think if you are smart, and (Titans coach) Mike Mularkey is,'' Jaworski said, "you are going to think protection first and I think Laremy Tunsil is the guy that I would project would be a guy that will fit in."
TitansOnline.com looks back at the 2015 rookie season of Titans QB Marcus Mariota. (AP Photos)