Johnny Manziel doesn't want to be "Johnny Football" any longer. And he also wants the Houston Texans to know that if they don't select him with the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, they'll regret it.
Speaking to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Manziel said that if the Texans don't draft him and a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him, "It would be the worst decision they've ever made. I'd be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Frito into a Dorito."
As McClain noted in his piece, Manziel previously expressed his desire to be selected by the Texans:
I want them to say absolutely, without a doubt, with 100 percent certainty, that I'm who they want.
I want everybody from the janitor at Reliant Stadium to the front office executive assistant all the way up to (owner) Bob McNair to say, 'This kid is 100 percent, can't miss. This is who we want being the face of our program. We want the Texas kid staying in Texas and leading the Texans.'
It's certainly a distinct possibility that the Texans could select him No. 1 overall. Draft pundits like Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN (subscription required) have him going to the Texans, and the electrifying Texas A&M quarterback seems like a lock to go in the top five selections at this point.
His production in college isn't in question. He won a Heisman Trophy in 2012 and threw for 7,820 yards, 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions while also rushing for 2,169 yards and 30 touchdowns in the past two seasons.
There are other questions about Manziel, however. For one, he became a lightning rod in the media after several off-field incidents, turning "Johnny Football" into one of the the most infamous athletes in the country. It's a label he's hoping to shed, as he told McClain:
I was a kid who made some goofball decisions. That's been part of my journey. Maybe it's part of the whole Johnny Football deal that I'm trying to get away from. I'm trying to show people I've grown up, and I've learned from my experiences. I feel like you're a stupid person if you continue to make the same wrong decisions.
I don't want to hear, 'Oh, anybody in his situation would have been doing the same thing.' I'm 100 percent responsible for my actions.
But there are also questions about how his game will translate to the NFL. NFL Films producer Greg Cosell noted how he has struggled to evaluate Manziel during an interview with the Midday 180 radio program in Nashville, via NFL.com: "I've studied him maybe the hardest, because he's maybe the most polarizing player. As you evaluate and transition him, there is a wide variation in his play. So there is a consistency issue."
At times, he's shown very strong flashes of structured pocket play that clearly projects to the NFL. So I think it will come down to how you balance these issues. He's much more of a see-it, throw-it quarterback than an anticipation thrower. He's not really a timing and anticipation thrower on film.
Some NFL teams will have issues with a player like Manziel, who will have to develop patience in the pocket rather than instantly looking to scramble when he feels pressure or his early reads don't develop. He'll need to learn to throw with more anticipation in the NFL, where players simply don't get as open as they do in college.
But there is also a danger in fundamentally changing who Manziel is as a quarterback. He won't thrive in a system that rigidly tries to change his style, compared to one that embraces his athleticism and free-wheeling mentality.
It remains to be seen if the Texans are that team. If they aren't and elect to go with a different player with the top pick, Manziel certainly thinks they'll regret it.
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