Could Johnny Manziel Be on the Philadelphia Eagles' Radar for 2014?
Michael Vick is off to the hottest start of his NFL career, but he's injury prone and he'll turn 34 after this season.
Matt Barkley is also on the Philadelphia Eagles roster after being drafted 98th overall in April, but fourth-round picks are far from guaranteed to become steady NFL starters.
With that in mind, there's still a chance the long-term answer for the Eagles under center isn't currently playing in the NFL. And if that is indeed the case, maybe college football's most popular player is a strong candidate to one day lead Chip Kelly's dynamic offense.
To thrive in the NFL, Manziel is going to have to land with a team that rates athletic ability highly among the traits it desires in a quarterback. It just so happens that two coaches who prefer that style of play, the Eagles’ Chip Kelly and the 49ers’ Jim Harbaugh, have intimate knowledge of Manziel. Both offered him scholarships out of high school, to Oregon and Stanford, respectively. Before he wound up in College Station, Manziel originally committed to Kelly and the Ducks.
“I diagrammed some of my favorite plays at Tivy [High], and one of the Oregon coaches said, ‘We literally run the exact same offense with different terminology,’ ” Manziel told the San Antonio Express-News three years ago. “Coach Kelly said I was perfect for their system, and I knew I was going to accept as soon as they offered.”
Manziel later decided Oregon was too far from his hometown of Kerrville, Texas, about three and a half hours from College Station. But given Manziel’s talents and Kelly’s uptempo, frenetic offense, a Manziel-Kelly reunion would be blissful. “Oh my gosh. He would be the prototype,” an NFC general manager says.
PhillyMag.com's Sheil Kapadia is all over this, even finding a connection between Manziel's huge hands and Kelly's appreciation for—you guessed it!—big hands.
Bedard notes that Manziel "lacks the prototypical height, arm strength and choir-boy image," but I don't believe Kelly is too concerned with at least the final two traits listed in that summary.
He might not be extremely accurate, which Kelly prefers, but B/R NFL draft expert Matt Miller told me, "Kelly likes to let his quarterback move to open passing lanes, and that's something Manziel does well."
It's too early to tell a) where the Eagles will be picking next year, b) where Manziel will be projected to go off the board and c) whether Philly will even be in the quarterback market. But it's hard to argue that Manziel, who is athletic, relatively accurate, fast and doesn't take a lot of sacks, isn't an ideal fit for Kelly's offense.
However, the 2014 quarterback class could be deep, especially compared to what we were working with in 2013. Clemon's Tajh Boyd would also appear to be a great fit, as would Marcus Mariota, who was, of course, Kelly's quarterback during his final year at Oregon.
We're getting far ahead of ourselves. The focus for the Eagles, right now, is the Kansas City Chiefs. And it'll be at least three months before any thought will go into the quarterbacks in the 2014 draft. Still, it's fun to speculate and think about the possibilities.
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