NASHVILLE – This is what NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah remembers about quarterback Marcus Mariota heading into the 2015 NFL Draft:
"He was accurate when you watched him," Jeremiah said of Mariota last week at the NFL Combine. "I worried about him really driving the football, because you didn't see that a ton at Oregon. The windows were big, so I thought it would be an adjustment for him, throwing with more anticipation.
"But obviously he was a special athlete, and the character stuff was off the charts."
Four football seasons later, Jeremiah said he still believes Mariota is capable of taking the next step, despite some inconsistencies, and injuries.
The second overall pick by the Titans in the 2015 draft, Mariota has thrown for 12,004 yards, with 69 touchdowns and 42 interceptions in four seasons with the Titans. He's completed 63.2 percent of his passes, with a passer rating of 89.4.
Mariota posted the highest completion percentage (68.9%) of his career in 2018, with the second-highest passer rating (92.3) of his career. But he also threw a career-low 11 touchdown passes, and the yardage total (2,528) was the lowest of his career.
"He's been in that good (quarterback) group," Jeremiah said of Mariota. "He just hasn't really been able to emerge from the good group to that upper-tier guy."
As Jeremiah looks ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft, he believes the Titans could help him take that next step.
Jeremiah mentioned Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf as a possibility for the Titans at No.19, but said other options on offense would be intriguing, and could help, too. The Titans have needs on both sides of the football, but helping Mariota is critical, he said.
"Part of that is giving him some more weapons," Jeremiah said. "The offensive line, (the Titans) have done a good job of adding some key pieces there, and I think you just have to continue to put more weapons around him and see if he can emerge out of that pile, but I think he is very much, in my opinion, in that middle tier group right now."
NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis believes Mariota could benefit from more playmakers as well. Still, he remembers the Titans taking receiver Corey Davis fifth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Earlier this offseason the Titans promoted tight ends coach Arthur Smith to offensive coordinator, replacing Matt LaFleur, now head coach of the Green Bay Packers. The move will give Mariota his fifth play-caller in five seasons.
Mariota is heading into the final year of his rookie contract, the option year.
"Unfortunately, (Mariota) hasn't had any consistency with an offensive staff," Charles Davis said. "He's had head coach, and staff changes around him. But he's also at that year where it has it has to happen – no ifs, ands or buts. He's at the zero hour. I thought last year would be more of the ascension (for Mariota), but different things happened.
"If you are sitting there at 19, and Metcalf starts to appear for you, I think you have to be all-in there. At some point they have to address that outside pass rusher, too. … But there's no doubt you have to help your quarterback."
Titans Online looks back at QB Marcus Mariota's 2018 season. (AP Photos)