More Likely NFL End Game for Johnny Manziel: All-Pro or All-Time Bust?
For anyone who is sick of the Manziel-mania that has overtaken the college football hype machine over the past several months, here is the bad news:
It is not over, and won't be for some time, regardless of the season that he has in 2014.
If Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies flop around on the field and struggle in their second SEC season, if he leads the nation in stupid plays and throws too many interceptions, we will be inundated with the news.
If he has an average season, leading A&M to a decent season, we will hear about "Heisman-winning quarterback" Johnny Manziel and his performance not meeting expectations.
If he has a sparkling season, leads the nation in incredible plays and wins another Heisman, the news cycle will be virtually unwatchable.
The sports media know what gets people talking, and the hard-partying, video game spin-off-inducing Manziel is certainly the sort of guy that makes waves.
After three seasons in college, a player is eligible to declare for the NFL draft. Manziel hits that mark this season, after redshirting in 2011.
So what happens when Manziel goes pro?
Contrary to what you might believe, this guy is a great passer. He finished the 2012 season with a 68 percent completion percentage and 26 passing touchdowns to only nine interceptions. His offseason work with quarterback coach George Whitfield prior to last season paid off in a big way, with a Heisman Trophy and momentum heading into 2013.
He demonstrated incredible athletic ability last season, rushing for 1,409 yards and 21 touchdowns, many of them highlight-reel worthy.
But opinion about his prospects in the NFL are varied, and most of the discussion centers around two things: his accuracy and his height.
Manziel is listed at 6'1", might be closer to 6'0" and plays much taller.
But the thinking that height is a prerequisite for success in the NFL as a quarterback should be dispelled at this point. RG3 is 6'2", Russell Wilson 5'11" and Drew Brees is 6'0". None of them giants, and yet Brees was eighth last season in quarterback rating, while Griffin and Wilson checked in at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
The notion that a short quarterback cannot succeed is a thing of the past. Let go of it, throw it away and leave it alone.
As for accuracy, we only have last season by which to measure this statistic at Manziel's, so check them out. He finished the year with a 68 percent completion percentage, which placed him at No. 8 in the country.
The notion that he faltered against superior competition is also out the window, as he completed over 77 percent of his attempts against Alabama and nearly 77 percent against Florida.
The lone aberration was against LSU, a game in which Manziel visibly struggled. If he continues to be that accurate in 2013, in spite of throwing from the run and trying to mend broken plays, there will be no reason to doubt that he can duplicate that success in the NFL.
There are other concerns. For example, Manziel tends to break from the pocket and scramble too soon. He was a freshman last season; let's see how he does in 2013.
The downside for Manziel, including failure to work through his progressions before scrambling, a tendency to run too soon and a lack of trust in his arm, are all issues that can be resolved with added experience.
Manziel is no Wilson or RG3 yet, and he is far from being Drew Brees, but he has an incredible talent, and no talent so unique has been seen at the quarterback position since Cam Newton. The move in the NFL toward spread styles of offense works in his favor, as Manziel's talents are best suited to such an offense.
While some doubt his ability to succeed in the NFL, given his drive, talent and incredible head for the game, Manziel will succeed in the NFL and do so in a big way.
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