If you need proof that America craves football in the months between the Super Bowl and the NFL draft, look no further than the headlines that Johnny Manziel drew on Friday simply for being a quarter-inch too short.
Measurements were taken for many of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL draft, and Manziel was among those who partook.
The NFL Network pointed out the numbers of some of the top quarterback prospects:
The thing that immediately stood out about the quarterback measurements was Manziel’s failure to reach the magical 6’ mark. Rob Rang of CBS Sports addressed that in a manner that suggests the former Heisman Trophy winner’s draft status will not be impacted in a negative way by the less-than-ideal measurement:
Manziel measured in just short of 6-foot, officially coming in at 5-foot-11, 3/4 and 209 pounds. While his height isn't ideal, it wasn't a surprise to scouts and isn't likely to impact his draft status, especially given the success of other short quarterbacks like Drew Brees (6-0 1/4, 213) and Russell Wilson (5-foot-10 5/8, 204). Manziel dismissed his height as just a number.
For what it’s worth, Manziel told reporters in a press conference the following (via Rang): "I feel like I play like I'm 10-feet tall. A measurement to me is just a number."
One number that did work in Manziel’s favor and further proves his draft stock will not be negatively impacted by his height was his 9.875” hand measurement, which was the largest of any quarterback at the combine.
Those disproportionate hands will assist Manziel in protecting the football against the larger-than-life defenders he will face in the NFL.
Yes, being less than 6’ tall isn’t ideal for a quarterback, and cases like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are more exceptions than the rule, but Manziel was never shooting up draft boards because of his height anyway.
Even though he isn’t throwing until his pro day on March 27, he will participate in the athletic drills at the combine, which will only help to maintain or even improve his draft stock.
Athleticism and mobility are huge advantages Manziel has over many of the other quarterbacks, and those traits will be on full display in Indianapolis.
Furthermore, scouts won’t get the chance to dissect his throwing ability at the combine, and having fellow Texas A&M receivers at the pro day will provide Manziel with some familiarity and comfort.
The two things that could be potential issues in regards to his draft stock are injury concerns and maturity issues.
The question becomes whether Manziel can handle the pounding at the next level at slightly less than 6’ tall. He did have some nagging injuries as a sophomore, and his tendency to tuck the ball and run may expose him in the NFL.
However, injuries are a product of bad luck more than anything else, and chances are the pro offense he is in at the next level won't ask him to use his feet as much.
As for the maturity issues, much of that was overblown during his college days in the first place. Frankly, the fact that Manziel enjoyed partying a bit in college (something that would never happen with any college student in America) isn’t going to scare professional front offices away from selecting a potentially franchise-altering talent.
It is that very talent that will allow Manziel to remain a top-five pick even after checking in at less than 6’ tall.
He threw for 7,820 yards and 63 touchdowns in two seasons in College Station and added another 2,169 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground. That production came against SEC defenses as well.
Don’t overlook the fact that the teams in the top five of the draft will need someone who can make plays on his own because of issues on the offensive line or receiving corps. After all, these teams are drafting in the top five for a reason.
Manziel, with his ability to scramble and electrify the crowd when he gets outside the pocket, will provide just that.
Manziel’s value to the marketing department will help his draft stock as well, especially for a squad like the Jacksonville Jaguars that could use some star power to improve its overall Q score among NFL fans.
The only way Manziel’s height measurement would completely turn a team off is if every category across the board was the same between the former Aggie and the rest of the quarterbacks. He is still a top-five pick and a legitimate candidate to be taken No. 1 by the Houston Texans.
Just think, if Manziel had only been a quarter-inch taller, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.
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