I have no doubt in my mind that I saw the best player in college football on New Year's Eve, and it really isn't even close.
Johnny Manziel needs to be drafted in the top five of this season's NFL draft at the very least. I could see him being a more productive player than Teddy Bridgewater. The Houston Texans should consider taking Johnny Football with the first overall pick.
Players like Manziel don't come along very often. He can make plays with his feet; however, he doesn't rely on his running ability to get extra yards. His passing numbers are actually comparable to Andrew Luck's last season at Stanford in 2011. Here is a table comparing Manziel's 2013 season to Luck's final campaign.
|Manziel in 2013||Luck in 2011|
Luck went No. 1 overall in the 2012 NFL draft and forced Peyton Manning out of town in Indianapolis. Without a doubt, Luck is one of the best pro prospects over the past 20 years and will be a perennial Pro Bowler for years to come.
Manziel's passing numbers aren't just comparable to Luck's, they actually might be better than his. He even had 759 rushing yards and nine touchdowns this season, which far supersedes Luck's rushing ability. Remember, Manziel also played in the SEC, the conference with probably the most NFL-ready defenses.
Putting Manziel's 2013 numbers against Bridgewater's provides another favorable comparison for the Texas A&M starter.
|Manziel in 2013||Bridgewater in 2013|
Once again, Manziel's numbers are fairly similar to Bridgewater's. Although he threw nine more interceptions than the Louisville starting quarterback, it should be noted that Manziel played against SEC opponents, while Bridgewater faced American Athletic Conference teams. The disparity in talent between these conferences is vast, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
More than his numbers, Manziel carried his squads against the nation's best. He shredded No. 4 Alabama and No. 2 Auburn, combining for over 918 passing yards, nine touchdowns and 146 rushing yards in these two contests.
A&M's defense were toyed with in these games, giving up 49 and 45 points, respectively. The defense was terrible all season, giving up 32.5 points per game. He clearly did not get much help from the other side of the ball all year.
There is not much left for Manziel to accomplish as a college player. He was the first redshirt freshman to win the Heisman last season and was even better this year. He needs to leave for the NFL draft, when his stock is at its highest.
Conversely, he should be drafted high in this draft, not because of his "star" power, or the flashy plays, but rather due to his outstanding ability as a pocket passer and starting quarterback.