There is no questioning Johnny Manziel's talent on the football field. He has been one of the most polarizing figures in college football in quite some time. His ability to make something out of nothing due to his heads-up play and great instincts were revelations for Texas A&M.
Once he was measured up at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, his physical attributes proved to be less of a hindrance than once thought as well. Despite standing at just 5'11.75" and weighing 207 pounds, his 9.875" hand size dispelled concerns about hanging on to the ball in the NFL.
In each of the combine events that Manziel participated in, he was one of the top performers out of all participating quarterbacks. Manziel ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash, 6.75-second three-cone drill and 4.03-second 40-yard shuttle.
He continued his display of impressive athleticism by recording a vertical jump of 31.5" and a broad jump of 113". These traits were already known to be possessed by Manziel—he simply reestablished his value on Sunday.
When Manziel throws at his own private workout on March 27, his competitiveness, timing, ball placement and accuracy will be on display for all 32 NFL teams.
However, there is another side to Manziel that must shine through, and the importance of this extreme could affect his standing in the draft or which team ultimately selects him. This would be his individual interviews.
During the combine and later in the offseason, NFL teams will be able to sit down with Manziel and ask him any and all questions regarding his time at College Station, which includes certain off-field issues and antics he was involved in.
Manziel needs to prove he has turned a new leaf. He needs to prove he is not a party-happy kid who just wants to have a good time. Manziel must show he is capable of being a leader and is focused and determined on excelling at the NFL level.
So far, he's been doing and saying all the right things.
During a media session at the combine, Manziel spoke eloquently to reporters, including Zac Jackson of Fox Sports, regarding his character and focus going forward:
I'm just trying to be the best football player I can be. That's what I want to be. I understand this is a job. I'm going to be myself. There's no way to go back and change the film, and I hope what's on the film will speak volumes. (Teams) can ask me whatever they want. I'm not going to shy away from anything, whether that's throwing at private workouts or answering any questions about anything.
He even addressed a question regarding a statement he made about wanting to be drafted by the Texans at No. 1 overall:
It's extremely cool (to be considered). Being a Texas guy, them having the first pick means a lot to me. I'm from Kerrville, Texas. I'm really just a small-town kid. Sometimes I've gotten caught up in certain things but I'm really just a small-town kid. Sometimes it's not easy, but that's what I am.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated also caught some polite words from Manziel as he met with the Jacksonville Jaguars brass. Writes King:
Manziel went to owner Shahid Khan and shook his hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Khan. I'm Johnny Manziel."
Then to his son Tony Khan, a team senior VP. "Hi Mr. Khan, Johnny Manziel."
Then to coach Gus Bradley. "Hi Coach Bradley, pleasure to meet you. Johnny Manziel."
Then to GM David Caldwell, and then to offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. All the same: handshake, look 'em in the eye, refer to them by name. He knew them all. Now, he didn't know the scouts in the room, but he knew five men by sight that he'd never met. "That was impressive," Caldwell said. "He did a really nice job in there. He was prepared for the interview, very prepared."
The interviews will continue to pile up for Manziel as we get closer to the NFL draft. If he can keep up this kind of conduct, the questions regarding his attitude and maturity will quickly begin to dissipate.
Manziel was at one point looked at as one of the biggest risks in this year's draft. However, after handling himself in such a mature manner, we could be looking at a new Johnny Manziel. A Manziel that looks focused, mature and determined to succeed.
Is this just a front—an attempt at an image boost? It's still too early to tell. Regardless, this is a big step in the right direction for one of the draft's most promising quarterbacks.
All scouting combine results and measurements courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
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