Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota plans to skip the 2015 NFL Draft — following the same likely move of Florida State’s Jameis Winston — and now the two biggest names to enter the league might not be in attendance.
According to ESPN.com, Mariota informed the league he plans to be in Hawaii among his family and the community that helped raise him. Mariota reportedly told the NFL that it is important to him — “both personally and culturally” — to be in Hawaii.
NFLDraftScout.com ranks Mariota as the No. 2 quarterback in the draft behind Winston, the likely No. 1 pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to ESPN, Mariota intends to invite both networks, ESPN and NFL Network, to broadcast his draft-day experience in Hawaii.
A few weeks ago, Winston said he might take in the moment surrounded by friends and family rather than taking the stage in Chicago. But Winston said Tuesday he is getting pressure to attend the event.
Winston said he specifically is concerned about not being with his grandmother, who has type-2 diabetes and is prohibited from traveling.
The first round of the draft held at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago on April 30 is televised in primetime, and a regular scene on the stage at the event is commissioner Roger Goodell squeezing hands and sometimes sharing a hug with top prospects as their names are called. It would be unusual for the top picks not to attend the draft. The last No. 1 overall pick not to attend the draft was Ohio State defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson in 1994.
The Tennessee Titans, who have the No. 2 pick, New York Jets, Bucs, San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins are among the teams to see Mariota in private workouts or have upcoming visits.