At a media event preceding Thursday's College Football Awards show, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel talked about the 2014 NFL draft.
Manziel: Biggest factor [for NFL] is, "Am I ready for the next level?" You don't want to be unprepared for NFL and leave 2 years on table.— Gabe Bock (@TexAgsRadio) December 12, 2013
Manziel: I'll sit down in the next few weeks and talk to [my mentors and coaches] to see if I'm ready for the NFL. In my mind, I am ready.— Gabe Bock (@TexAgsRadio) December 12, 2013
The big takeaway was the last part: "In my mind, I am ready."
UPDATE: Friday, Dec. 13, at 3:00 p.m. ET:
According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, Manziel's decision won't come till after Texas A&M's bowl game:
Johnny Manziel just said NFL decision will come after bowl game but he sure doesn't sound like a guy coming back— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) December 13, 2013
Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples provided some of Manziel's thinking:
Manziel: “I feel like I’ve been in college forever, and I have two years of eligibility left.”— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) December 13, 2013
---End of Update---
Nothing is official, but when a player says he is ready for the NFL, the chances of him returning to school aren't great.
While Manziel's outlook could change depending on what his advisers tell him, it's not likely. According to most, the 21-year-old is a surefire first-round pick.
Is Manziel ready for the NFL?
ESPN's Scouts Inc. ranks Manziel as the No. 20 overall prospect and No. 3 quarterback behind Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. CBS Sports puts him at No. 12 and No. 3, respectively, with Derek Carr instead of Bortles ahead of him in the QB ranks. Sports Illustrated's Peter King has Manziel at No. 9 and No. 2.
Manziel's dual-threat ability and athleticism are his defining traits, and for good reason. He ran for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns during his Heisman-winning freshman campaign and has followed that up with 686 yards and another eight scores in 2013.
But as Texas A&M's Twitter feed shows us, he has taken significant steps forward as a passer this season:
Manziel's agility and playmaking ability undoubtedly make him a tantalizing prospect. But as someone who still has room for development as a passer, is that alone enough to make him "ready for the NFL"?
That question can't be answered until he is actually playing on Sundays, but judging by Manziel's own words, there's a good chance that will be next year.