ATLANTIC CITY - Marcus Mariota has not ruled the Eagles out yet.
The Oregon quarterback has been linked to the Eagles throughout the last two months because of his connection with Eagles coach Chip Kelly and how he'd fit in the team's offense. But it seemed more unlikely that the Eagles would make a big trade after Kelly acquired quarterback Sam Bradford on Tuesday. Yet Mariota still believes it's possible that he could reunite with Kelly in Philadelphia next season.
"I wouldn't doubt it, but Coach Kelly and the Eagles are going to do what's best for the team," Mariota said on the day of the Maxwell Football Club's annual awards gala. "We'll see what happens."
During a Wednesday news conference, Kelly tried to "dispel" the theories that the Eagles would trade for Mariota. He called Mariota the best quarterback in the draft, but said the Eagles would not mortgage their future to trade for him. Mariota heard about the comments, but did not see them.
"It's going to come down to whatever they want to do," Mariota said. "I'm not sure what Coach Kelly wants to do. He hasn't talked to me about it. He's been more of a mentor to me, whenever I needed someone. If I need to talk to him about anything, he's kind of that person who's been there for me."
Mariota said Kelly "checks in on" him throughout the predraft process. He's also close with Eagles receiver Josh Huff, a college teammate.
Mariota had an "informal meeting" with Eagles quarterbacks coach Ryan Day before Oregon's pro day Thursday. Kelly said the Eagles hold those meetings with all the top quarterbacks and warned against reading too much into it. Mariota has no scheduled plans to visit Philadelphia.
The two top quarterbacks in the draft are considered to be Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston. They could be the top two picks, although Mariota could also slide because of questions about how he projects to a pro-style offense.
"I think in the process of this entire thing you understand what teams need quarterbacks, but there's always going to be a team that might jump up and take you," Mariota said. "So it's one of the processes where you've just got to wait. It's out of your control and let everything else unfold and see where you fall."
Mariota did not overwhelm observers at the pro day, according to reports. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said on the telecast that "at best it was just a solid workout," and that Mariota started a "little rough" and appeared "a little nervous" before becoming comfortable as the workout progressed. Mariota took every throw from under center to show his footwork. He played almost exclusively out of the shotgun with the Ducks.
"It went OK," Mariota said from the Tropicana on Friday. "I missed some throws, it's just one of those things. But overall I thought everyone, I've heard, did a pretty good job."
Even with Thursday's pro day in Eugene, Ore., Mariota flew cross-country Thursday night so he could experience the annual event, in which he has won the Maxwell Award as the top college player. He arrived in Atlantic City around 3:30 a.m. Friday.
"I've heard this is an incredible event," Mariota said. "You get an opportunity to meet people like Ron Jaworski; it's one of those things that's once in a lifetime. I wanted to come out here and enjoy this."
Mariota is back to work quickly. He meets with Tampa Bay on Monday. The Buccaneers hold the No. 1 pick.
Mariota will try to impress the Bucs brass, but he cannot escape the talk that he will rejoin Kelly in Philadelphia.
"I think everyone jokes with me about it."