A lot of things has been said about the Aggies starting quarterback and at this point of the season he might very well be one of the toughest prospect to scout in this draft class.
Before he even steps in the field and take his first snap, the first thing everyone realizes is that Manziel is a member of the new breed of shorter quarterback who can enjoy success at the next level. Currently listed at 6 foot 1 and weighting in at 210 lbs according to Texas A&M website’s (so, in other words, he could be shorter than that). His comparison with both Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, other QBs below the magical 6 foot 2 mark, are logical but not entirely.
First of all, Manziel is an elite dual threat quarterback. He is as deadly through the air as he is in ground, something that both Brees and Wilson never really were during their collegiate career. Being shorter than other QBs, his mobility has been Manziel’s key to succeed in college football. His quickness and elusiveness are a nightmare for opposing defenders as his ability to escape the pressure and/or the pocket are second to none. With those elite skills on his feet and a world-class creativity, Manziel is a tough player to sack and there were countless plays last year or this year, for example in the rematch against Alabama. In that game Manziel could have been sacked but instead found a way to make a play for positive yardage thanks to his skill-set.
But Manziel isn’t only an elite runner. He also happen to be a good passer but that’s when the flaws in Manziel’s game are exposed. Of course, there’s a lot to like as he showed a great accuracy last year and a natural talent to throw on the run. Also on the positive side : His decision making. As mentioned earlier, Manziel’s ability to make plays out of nothing are remarkable but he also did a great job to not turn the ball over in 2012. Even if he is in pace to throw more INTs than last year (8 at this point, 9 last year), he also is in pace to throw more passing TDs (22 at this point, 26 last year) than during his Heisman winning season. Finally, Manziel can throw the ball. He doesn’t have the biggest arm in college and did a very good job on a short/quick passing type of game.
Then, there’s the negative side : Even if he improved this year, his footwork in the pocket is still a work in progress. He still makes far too much off balance/difficult throws and could very well throw some costly interceptions in the next level. Also, while Manziel’s size shouldn’t be an issue, his throwing motion will be. He doesn’t enjoy a high release point like Brees or Wilson and this will be a factor in the next level. Will he be able to throw on interior routes ? Last but not least, Manziel still have to prove that he can adjust to the defense. Being creative, elusive and able to succeed even on broken plays is one thing but being able to anticipate a blitz could be a key for Johnny Football’s success in the NFL.
Granted, his offensive line featured three possible NFL starters (Ogbuehi, Matthews and Joeckel) and he benefited from both coach Sumlin’s offense but also from Mike Evans talent. But Manziel’s instinct and skills can’t be overlooked.
First ever Freshman and second Aggie to win the Heisman trophy.
First ever freshman to win the Manning and the Davey O’Brien Award.
2012 First Team All American.
2012 SEC Offensive Player of the year.
Led Texas A&M to a 11-2 season in 2012 (winning the Cotton Bowl).
Holds the FBS record for total offense for a freshman and the FBS record of the most rushing yards by a QB in a Bowl game.
On the analysis part, it was only about Manziel as a football player. Here, it will be the part that could scare most of the NFL team because as you may all know, Johnny Football hasn’t been an angel off the field. The main issue and concern is Manziel’s maturity. No need to enter the details of parties and other NCAA suspension (regardless of what you think about that ..) but you have to wonder if the Texas A&M product is ready handle the worldwide exposure that will go along with being an NFL player. How will he handle a multi-million contract ? (depending on when he gets drafted, of course) Also, will he be able to accept the fact that he may not be the only star on the team ? NFL is no longer a USA-only league. They play games in London, in Canada and some teams will ask themselves if Manziel can represent them and play as well as he does in college with the high-pressure of being an NFL starter. This is a possible huge redflag because talent doesn’t make anything in this world … and memories of off-field antics a la Ryan Leaf are still there.
Round 1-2 (Top 60 Pick): Based on talent alone, Manziel could be a Top 5 pick. But he won’t. His off-field issues and his size will scare teams but there’s a very good chance that some-one in the first round (a desperate team..), especially in the second half, will take a gamble on such an High Risk High Reward kind of prospect. After all, the need in Quarterback is higher than ever but I would not be surprised to see him fall to round 3.
Possible Match in the NFL
Every team who needs a help under center will be interested in Manziel’s profile. The Eagles would be a very good match as well as the Cardinals, the Browns or even the Jaguars (they could go Clowney with the #1 and Manziel in the second round but that’s a VERY long shot). All those team need a playmaker and could pull the trigger regardless of his off-field issues.