Johnny Manziel is one of College Football’s premier players and is making a strong case for his second Heisman Trophy in a row. It’s indisputable that he is a great college quarterback-the question is whether or not that will translate to the pros. Many NFL scouts are projecting him to go in the second to third round. A good day at the NFL Combine could launch his draft stock into the first round. Of course, this is all assuming that he decides to declare for the NFL Draft after his sophmore season.
Manziel’s supporters point out the fact that he was the first true freshman to win the Heisman in a breakout year and Texas A&M that included a victory over eventual nation champion Alabama. Manziel’s speed, quick release, and accuracy are all factors that work in his favor. His deep ball has improved quite a bit in his sophomore season. At 6’2, size is not a pressing concern. He is a proven winner and has performed well in the clutch in the past.
However, Manziel’s detractors point out quite a few flaws and raise compelling questions. Manziel frequently gains huge yards on broken plays. He’ll run around behind the line of scrimmage for 10 seconds before finding a broken coverage and zip it to his suddenly wide open wide receiver. NFL defensive backs are too smart and fast for this to happen, no to mention the fact that he won’t be able to elude NFL defensive linemen so easily. There are also questions about how Manziel will fare in the NFL without his big possession receiver, Mike Evans. Manziel relies heavily upon him, and if he ends up on a rebuilding team, Manziel will have little in the means of open receivers. Manziel also needs to learn to slide more and play smarter, if he continues to play recklessly he will get injured often and may end up having a tough season like the one RG3 is currently enduring. Some scouts also point to Manziel’s perceived arrogance, indicating that he might not want to play for a rebuilding team or ride the bench.
Manziel is not a complete quarterback prospect, nor a guy who can start for you day 1. He will need some time to learn the ins and outs of the pro game, and he will need to make big strides in his decision making if he wants to last in the NFL. That being said, Manziel is a solid draft choice for a few teams.
Best Teams: Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears.
In Arizona, Manziel would have his possession receiver in the ever reliable Larry Fitzgerald and a solid second option in the exciting Michael Floyd. Arizona’s run game looks promising and the defense can turn in dominant performances. Offensive minded Head Coach Bruce Arians would be extremely helpful in Manziel’s development and the team can always turn to veteran Carson Palmer if Manziel struggles. He could potentially be their franchise quarterback with the proper coaching. If he’s available in the second round, they should pull the trigger. The offensive line should be addressed in the first round for Arizona.
The Bears have a plethora of offensive weapons in Ashlon Jeffrey, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte. With a Jay Cutler contract situation looming, Manziel could sit behind Cutler in 2014 and take over the reins in the following year. Marc Trestmen has done a fantastic job in revitalizing Chicago’s offense, and he seems to be a good fit to mold Manziel into a pro ready quarterback. Manziel is in optimal position to succeed with either of these two teams.
Worst Teams: New York Jets, Houston Texans
The media, especially ESPN, loves to hate the Jets, and loves to hate Manziel. Manziel on the Jets? Oh boy. In an already tumultuous quarterback situation involving Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, Manziel might have to see the field before he is ready. Also, what would it say about the franchise’s faith in Smith, their proposed franchise QB? The New York Media would eat Manziel alive, labeling him a bust after one bad game. Rex Ryan is a good head coach, but he is naturally a more defensive minded coach. The Jets offensive has sputtered lately, and it would be tough for any quarterback to succeed with the Jets’ depleted offensive weapons.
The University of Houston and Texas A&M have a major rivalry. With Manziel’s first mistakes the fan base would be calling for hometown hero and college legend Case Keenum. The fans allow their quarterbacks a short leash, turning on Matt Schuab after a few bad games, forgetting everything he has done for the franchise, where the real blame lies with Head Coach Gary Kubiak for not allowing him to audible. With the fans predisposed to dislike him and competition with Case Keenum, I can’t see it ending well for Manziel in Houston.