Is Johnny Manziel Going to be Franchise Player or is He Overhyped?
NFL Draft 2014
Recent comments by Manziel
Johnny Manziel suggested recently that it would be a mistake for teams with high draft picks to pass on him. His comments come after the market for his services have materialized leading up to the draft, with some of the teams who hold top five picks, not being interested in drafting him. As a competitor and a person with an outspoken personality, Manziel decided that his best plan of attack would be to let those teams know they could be making a mistake. While this may not always be the best course of action for a draft prospect, it displays the fact that Manziel has a lot of confidence in his own abilities. Now the question is, why should NFL teams display the same confidence in the abilities of a player like Johnny Manziel, after seeing what happened to Tim Tebow as a recent first round draft pick at quarterback with a similar skillset?
Tim Tebow vs. Johnny Manziel
While Johnny Manziel has drawn many comparisons to Tim Tebow as a running quarterback who creates a lot of hype among the fans, they are not that similar as passers. In his college career, Tebow was never asked to attempt as many passes as Johnny Manziel attempted each season for Texas A&M. While Tebow was an accurate college passer in terms of completion percentage, film of his downfield throws showed that he had a lot of work to do to become a good passer at the next level. Johnny Manziel may not have the strongest arm of the quarterbacks in the upcoming draft class, but his downfield throws have always been accurate enough for his receivers to make a play on the ball most every throw. For this reason, Johnny Manziel already should be a better quarterback than Tim Tebow was during his first attempt at playing quarterback in the NFL.
Manziel's college career
Johnny Manziel only played two seasons of college football, but he won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshmen quarterback in 2012. That season Manziel completed 68 percent of his passes for 3706 yards, to go along with 26 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Manziel also ran for 1410 yards that season with 21 rushing touchdowns. It was just a spectacular season for the A&M offensive star, and has not been matched by many to come before him. In 2013, he shifted his game to become more of a pocket passer and once again put up huge numbers from the quarterback position. He completed a higher percentage of his passes while throwing for more yards and running less. He completed 69.9 percent of his passes with 4114 yards to go along with 37 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. As a prolific runner, Manziel had another good season running the football as well. However he did not run for nearly as many yards as he did in 2012, but he still managed to run for 759 yards and score nine rushing touchdowns. All of these numbers would suggest that Manziel is ready to play football and be successful at the highest level, but college production is not the final measuring stick for a prospect.
Johnny Manziel is not a very big guy, so there are concerns about his ability to play football in the NFL where the competition is bigger and faster than at the college level. Manziel is listed at 6 foot 1inch, and 210 pounds with some doubt as to whether that is his actual height and weight. A quarterback at this height is not ideal in the NFL, although the past two seasons Russell Wilson proved the doubters as a quarterback who is not quite six feet tall. Manziel's game is not very much like Wilson's game, but it could evolve to become similar to it. As a quarterback who can get outside the pocket quite easily, Manziel could become a guy who is not limited to staying in the pocket where his field vision is limited. Getting outside the pocket can open the passing lanes for him, if he keeps his eyes downfield rather than looking to run every time he vacates the pocket. As a scrambling quarterback, another concern about Manziel's size is with his durability. Over the past two seasons for Texas A&M, he averaged over 150 carries per season. In the NFL that many carries by a quarterback, will most likely result in a serious injury to that player. With this in mind, Johnny Manziel is still a very explosive athlete who should be effective as long as he can stay on the field.
One of the biggest reasons why some people doubt Manziel's ability to succeed in the NFL, is because he does not fit the mold of the traditional pocket passer at quarterback. That type of quarterback has had success in the NFL for so many years, but the evolution of the game has brought in effective scrambling quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Ultimately if Johnny Manziel is coachable and working hard at the next level, he should be able to have success when a team gives him the opportunity to be their franchise quarterback. Johnny Manziel currently holds his fate as an NFL quarterback in his own hands, so it is now up to him to make good decisions on and off the field. Manziel may not go first overall or even in the top five, but tomorrow night some team will decide to give him the opportunity to be their franchise quarterback of the future.