The Heisman Trophy winner gets most of the fanfare but the Oregon Ducks qualified for the National Championship because they are loaded with NFL talent. In fact, this year's class could be the most gifted in the university's rich history.
Scouts crave opportunities like this to compare players on an apples-to-apples level; it is among the reasons why the Senior Bowl practices (and those in other all-star games) and the workouts at the Combine are so valued. "Vince Young against Matt Leinart in the 2006 Rose Bowl was close," one 20+ year talent evaluator said, "but this game is even bigger."
The 2015 Rose Bowl is an NFL scout's dream with two talent-laden teams led by future first round quarterbacks. The talent extends far beyond Mariota and Winston, however, as nearly two dozen Florida State and Oregon prospects are currently projected by NFLDraftScout.com as potential 2015 draft picks.
Marcus Mariota may have taken steps towards the Heisman but his inconsistent performance in Oregon's 51-13 victory over Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Friday night muddied rather than clarified his projection to the NFL.