Mannion has become one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 over the course of the past three years. After two quality seasons to start out his career, Mannion had a massive 2013 year with wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
In 2012, Mannion completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,446 yards with 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He became the Beavers' starting quarterback in 2011. The redshirt freshman completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,328 yards with 16 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Mannion lit up defenses in the Pac-12 in 2013 as he completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,662 yards with 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The junior started the season red hot with huge games against Utah (5 TDs, 443 yards), Washington State (4 TDs, 493 yards) and California (4 TDs, 481 yards). Mannion was slowed down by Stanford, but didn't play poorly as he completed 41-of-57 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. However after that, Mannion had some ugly games in November against USC, Arizona State and Washington. In those three losses, he threw 10 interceptions versus four touchdown passes.
Mannion closed out the regular season playing better in a 36-35 loss to Oregon as he completed 29-of-47 passes for 314 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
2014 Season Outlook:
For the second-straight year, Mannion is losing his No. 1 receiver. Markus Wheaton entered the NFL in 2013, and Brandin Cooks was an even bigger loss as he became a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. While those speedy targets are gone, Oregon State believes it has quality receivers for Mannion to work with as a senior.
Like he did last year, Mannion should start the season in a strong fashion. He has easy opponents in his first three outings against Portland State, Hawaii and San Diego State. The first good defense the Beavers face is a road game at USC at the end of September.
Late in October, Mannion will see perhaps the best defense he'll face all year in Stanford in another road test. To end his final regular season, the Beavers will host Oregon and have the opportunity to beat their biggest rival in Mannion's final home game.
Mannion has a lot of skills that NFL teams are looking for in a starting quarterback. He has a strong arm that can make all the throws for the NFL. Mannion can push the ball vertically and drive the ball on deep outs to the sideline.
On top of his good height, Mannion has field vision and a nice basis for plus field vision as a pro. All college quarterbacks have to get better at scanning the field and working through their progressions for the NFL, but Mannion has a better starting point than most. He runs a pro-style offense at Oregon State and will enter the NFL with a lot of starting experience. Mannion could use more weight on his frame, but that could come when he enters a NFL strength and conditioning program.
There are three things that Mannion must improve in order to have a shot at being a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft: accuracy, anticipation and footwork. Mannion's rough stretch last November can be attributed to those weaknesses. His interceptions came on inaccurate passes, and his feet weren't always in rhythm. Mannion needs to improve his feet and become more consistent with his approach. His accuracy should get better when he improves his footwork, but becoming more accurate when throwing into tight windows is critical for him.
Mannion is not a running quarterback; he had zero rushing touchdowns last year. Mannion doesn't possess real escapability for the NFL. He is prone to hold on to the ball too long, too. Mannion took 25 sacks as a junior and 24 sacks as a freshman (12 as a sophomore). He needs to pull the trigger faster.
If Mannion can improve his footwork and accuracy, he could rise high during across senior year. For the NFL, Mannion has the physical skill set to be a potential starting quarterback if he can iron out his flaws.
2015 NFL Draft Expectations:
Mannion received a third-round estimation from the NFL Advisory Board for the 2014 NFL Draft before deciding to return for his senior season. During this offseason, Mannion has been working hard on his accuracy and footwork. Assuming that work pays off, he could easily be a second-round pick and possibly move into the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Quarterbacks rise and good pocket passers are always in demand.
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