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Once upon a time, Marcus Mariota was a highly-touted quarterback prospect who was thought of as his team's future at the position. The Tennessee Titans drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick back in 2015, and he was the team's starter under center right away. 

Mariota put together a solid rookie year and an even better sophomore campaign, but injuries and inconsistency led to him taking a step backward, and eventually losing his job to Ryan Tannehill early in his fifth NFL season. With Tannehill entrenched in Tennessee, Mariota spent the past two seasons backing up Derek Carr with the Las Vegas Raiders, working in on occasion as a rushing threat in short-yardage situations. 

Now, though, he's back under center as a starter for the Atlanta Falcons, working with head coach Arthur Smith, who was the offensive coordinator for a portion of Mariota's time with the Titans. Mariota, though, is almost certainly not the long-term answer for the Falcons at quarterback. Barring his taking a Tannehill-like leap in performance, this is likely to be a short-term arrangement. 

That means part of Mariota's job is to mentor third-round pick Desmond Ridder, whom the team drafted out of Cincinnati. Mariota says he's up for the job, even if it means he might eventually lose his own. 

"If you can help guys -- especially the younger guys -- out, it's ultimately going to make your team better," Mariota said this week, per "So, I do whatever I can. I pass along as much information as I can to him, whatever he wants to absorb."

Ridder seems to appreciate the tutelage. "When something's not right and I know he's been in that situation before and I just go and ask him, 'OK, so coach said this, how do we really want it?'" Ridder said. "He comes back and gives me an answer and just makes things run more smoothly."

Of course, it's entirely possible that Ridder is not the team's long-term answer at quarterback, either. If he's unable to supplant Mariota at any point this season and the Falcons struggle to the degree most prognosticators expect them to, the Falcons could be right back in the market for a passer in next year's draft. And then Mariota may have a new pupil to mentor in the second season of his two-year deal.