Johnny Manziel's Late-Game Heroics Showcase QB's Immense NFL Potential

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2013

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 12:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies is tended to after being injured during a game against the Ole Miss Rebels on October 12, 2013 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. At halftime Texas A&M leads Ole Miss 14-10.  (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Michael Chang/Getty Images

After two big turnovers in the second half, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel saw his team trailing and found himself in a make-or-break situation.

He could help his team overcome his gaffes, or sink in the pressure of a game slipping away.

The defending Heisman Trophy winner answered the bell and calmly led his team to a 41-38 victory. In the process, he further proved his potential to play in the NFL. 

Manziel ended the game going 31-of-39 with 346 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. He also picked up a season-high 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. 

Those are some eye-grabbing stats. Although, Manziel has turned this kind of stat line into a fairly common occurrence in his already decorated college career. 

Despite his amazing college resume, though, Manziel still has plenty of critics regarding his NFL future. 

It was roughly a month ago when Peter King of Sports Illustrated issued a report stating many NFL teams considered Manziel undraftable:

But Manziel, to many teams right now, would be undraftable because they're scared of his mood swings and off-field questions. But it only takes one team out of 32 to fall for him. And some team will, unless he self-destructs between today and draft day.

Manziel's off-the-field antics have received plenty of play in the media and public consciousness. However, as King stated, "it only takes one," and "many teams" certainly doesn't mean all teams.

While he may have some off-field concerns, Manziel also boasts intangibles that make him an intriguing pro prospect, including the ability to rise to the occasion. The sophomore remained in complete control while bringing his team back on Saturday. While the intensity of the game speeds up the action for most, it appears to slow down for Manziel. 

This is a valuable skill for any quarterback, and it speaks to Manziel's ability to handle the transition to playing on Sundays at the next level. 

Manziel is going to warrant plenty of attention in the NFL draft, and for all the teams that haven't ruled him out for his off-field behavior, they will be weighing a much more tangible list of concerns. 

The biggest concern on Maziel is his height, or lack thereof. Manziel is listed at 6'1", and that looks like a measurement he must have received while wearing his mud cleats. 

Adding weight to this concern is the fact that Manziel's release point is right around his height. Shorter quarterbacks Drew Brees and Russell Wilson both have release points around the 6'4" level. 

This is going to make life in the pocket a touch difficult for the enigmatic quarterback. 

However, Manziel's talents far outweigh these concerns, and he put his special skill set on vivid display while rescuing a victory over Ole Miss. 

Manziel was efficient and lethal when it mattered most. Any concerns of his play in the pocket had all but vanished, as he wasn't spending much time in the pocket. 

Manziel was hitting the Ole Miss defense for big runs and easy yards. This left the defense spread out and vulnerable, and Manziel used his vision, arm talent and creativity to exploit this in the passing game. 

This kind of play will translate just fine into the NFL. Quarterbacks are spending more time out of the pocket than ever in the league's history, and offensive coordinators are finding new ways to incorporate a quarterback's ability to move. 

Still, Manziel will have to work on his play in the pocket. He will have to become supremely efficient in his pre-snap reads, and his footwork must improve. 

However, you can say that about almost any quarterback heading into the NFL. 

With his poise, mobility and arm talent, there is no doubting that Manziel has what it takes to start and succeed in the pros.