Marcus Mariota visits Bears; does it make sense to target him?

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According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is believed to have visited the Bears early last week.

Joining ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” on Thursday, Schefter said the Bears were on Mariota’s list of pre-draft visits. Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, is one of the top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft, joining Florida State’s Jameis Winston.

The Bears are in the market for a young quarterback, as new general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox have been reluctant to give starting quarterback Jay Cutler any kind of vote of confidence. Between Cutler’s exorbitant contract and the mistakes he makes on the field, the Bears could be looking to go in a different direction.

Cutler remains the starting signal caller, of course. Rumors of the Bears seeking to trade Cutler run rampant, but his excessive contract isn’t exactly appealing to other ball clubs, which speaks volumes about former GM Phil Emery’s judgment in giving Cutler the money that he did last year.

The rub against Mariota is that he might be a system quarterback whose talents might not translate to the NFL game. He’s the latest example of a quarterback who makes one or two quick reads before he tucks the ball and runs with it. This style of quarterbacking has worked in the past for players like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, but has also led to an awful lot of struggles for other players of that skill set.

Lovie Smith’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the first pick of this month’s draft and are interested in Winston, but they’re also kicking the tires of Mariota. It’s possible that Mariota could be on the board when the Bears pick at No. 7, but the Bears could use help on the defensive line and at wide receiver. And, of course, examining the outside linebackers to fit their new 3-4 defense will be of interest because a team can never have enough good pass rushers.

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