Former Texas A&M quarterback and polarizing draft prospect Johnny Manziel remains the biggest wild card as we get closer to the 2014 NFL draft. A laundry list of storylines have followed Manziel around since his days in College Station.
This past June, Manziel posted an angry tweet saying that he "can't wait to leave College Station." Apparently, that was over a parking ticket. However, in his position, he must know that things like that will lead to heavy scrutiny.
He did make amends though, posting another tweet, that said, "I love A&M with all my heart." This is just a small sample of the things we've seen the man known as "Johnny Football" get himself into while in college.
More Nawrocki on Manziel, "Carries a sense of entitlement and prima-donna arrogance seeking out the bright lights of Hollywood."— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 17, 2014
The point to this history of Manziel is simply this: As a quarterback of an NFL franchise, it is of the utmost importance to remain humble and lead the football team in a selfless manner.
Is Manziel capable of doing that? The jury is still out.
Manziel made headlines again recently, as the flamboyant quarterback expressed his desire to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans during an interview with John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:
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.'
If that's what Manziel wants—to be the face of an NFL organization—he may still have his work cut out for him.
Nawrocki: Manziel 'not a leader by example or known to inspire by his words'; Clowney 'lacks discipline' http://t.co/jbtnKDD7kV— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) February 17, 2014
Not only has Manziel been in the public eye off the field, but he has been on the field as well. Many different opinions have surfaced about his ability to play quarterback on the NFL level.
An overview of Manziel's weaknesses from his draft profile on CBSSports.com really sums it up:
Tendency to fall off his throws, even when standing flat-footed with no pressure. In falling away rather than stepping into his throws, passes lack consistency accuracy.
Willing to throw passes late and over the middle, and relies on his wideouts to make plays in jump-ball situations. Possesses enough arm strength to make every NFL throw but does not own a howitzer and projects best in a timing-based offense that utilizes rather than limits his creativity.
String of off-field issues brings maturity level and ability to handle the rigors of being the "face" of an NFL franchise into serious question.
This is not to say that Manziel doesn't have finer qualities as well. It simply means that there are still plenty of question marks regarding the quarterback.
It appears those questions will continue for at least a little while, as Manziel's agent Erik Burkhardt tweeted that the quarterback will not be throwing at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine:
.@JManziel2 will do all of his throwing at his March 27th Pro Day & private workouts. Teams will have all the time & access they want.— Erik Burkhardt (@ErikBurkhardt) February 15, 2014
This forces NFL scouts to be content with Manziel's college tape for a little while longer. However, some analysts are all right with what they have seen of him already. Draft guru Mike Mayock had strong words about Manziel during an interview with Chase Goodbread of NFL.com:
The first tape I put in was Alabama, and I put the tape down about two hours later and said, 'Wow, that was awesome. It was really fun to watch. The kid made throws, he allows other players to make plays, he gave Mike Evans a chance to make plays. He extended plays. He was a combination of Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie. I really enjoyed it, and there were two or three more tapes like that.
That's right, Manziel was compared to an NFL legend. This just adds to the hype revolving around the quarterback.
Although it was not all praise from Mayock, as he saw a common theme that could be Manziel's downfall in the NFL:
Both (losses), the common denominator for me was that I felt like he got frustrated in the pocket. LSU and Missouri did a great job with controlling the rush and keeping him in the pocket. The more he was in the pocket, the more frustrated he got. He started to lose his accuracy. He started trying to escape the pocket way before he needed to. I feel like he doesn't like being confined. He likes those open spaces.
Frustration. Off the field and on the field, Manziel creates plenty of it. This is what makes him such a wild card entering the 2014 NFL draft. With a seemingly hot-headed personality, Manziel looks like he has to do as much work on the mental aspects of the game as well as the technical aspects of being a quarterback.
If you were an NFL owner, would you take a chance on Manziel?
This isn't saying that Manziel is not capable of producing on the NFL level. However, after being considered a top-five draft prospect, teams must be weary if they are to select him so early. They must be 100 percent sure that he can be their guy.
Granted, there is still plenty of time before the draft actually rolls around. Manziel could certainly shed the downside of his image before that time comes. Unfortunately, he hasn't done so just yet and remains the biggest mystery as draft season continues.