The Oakland Raiders are apparently close to signing free-agent quarterback Marcus Mariota. And given Oakland Coach Jon Gruden's feelings about Mariota, going back to the 2015 draft, when there was controversy over whether Mariota or Jameis Winston would be the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Here is what Gruden, then not coaching in the NFL and working as a commentator, said about Mariota:

I don't understand why he isn't the No. 1 player in this draft on Mel Kiper's Big Board. I don't know anybody in this draft that can do for a football team what Mariota can do. He can read the field. That whole thing about Oregon being a no-huddle, dive-option team, that is just a narrative resulting from a lack of information. The Ducks run a lot of pro-style concepts. Mariota does a lot with the protections. I've seen him throw the ball with touch and timing in tight windows.

Mariota is the same size as Jameis Winston. He runs 4.52 40, he is incredibly elusive, and man, is he a playmaker and a great competitor. I see him functioning in the pocket, out of the pocket, and if you want to run a zone-read, he'll rip the defense apart. He is like Russell Wilson, only he is 6-4.


Gruden has a reputation as a head coach who is tough on quarterbacks. Very demanding. But it appears Mariota would be heading toward a fresh start for a head man who has liked him for a long time.