Johnny Manziel is polarizing.
Some can't help but be enamored by the former Texas A&M quarterback's dual-threat ability, elusiveness and creativity while under pressure, or his record-setting production in college. Others, however, are put off by his perceived lack of maturity, off-the-field question marks and propensity to sometimes force the issue on the gridiron.
The latter group has undoubtedly made itself heard.
Woah, woah, woah, Mr. Anonymous NFL Quarterback.
If you prefer Bortles over Manziel, that's perfectly fine.
In fact, when comparing the top three quarterbacks against each other, there is no right answer in my mind. Whether or not you like Manziel, Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater really comes down to a matter of preference, as each QB presents a different set of attributes and would fit different offensive schemes to varying degrees of success.
But to say an NFL team isn't going to be winning games with Johnny Football at the helm is pure poppycock.
During the combine, Manziel solidified his rank as the most athletic quarterback in this class. Not only did he run the fastest 40 (4.56), but his short shuttle time of 4.03 was the second fastest since 2006, according to Rotoworld's Josh Norris:
Johnny Manziel's short shuttle (4.03) is second best since '06 for QBs. Behind Matt Scott's 3.99— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 23, 2014
That athleticism and elite lateral quickness is what makes Manziel able to do some truly amazing things on the football field. Footballguys.com's Sigmund Bloom called him "the best quarterback I've ever evaluated" in terms of escapability inside the pocket and elusiveness outside of it.
Not only is that kind of playmaking ability on another level, but Manziel is an underrated thrower. His mechanics sometimes leave a little bit to be desired, but he can be deadly accurate—both from the pocket and on the run—to all areas of the field.
In his game-changing ability to elude pressure, extend plays and make phenomenal throws, Manziel is reminiscent of Russell Wilson. Go ahead and ask anyone from Seattle—once they stop swooning—how he's working out.
NFL.com's Mike Mayock, via NBC's Newy Scruggs, put it simply:
NFL Draft expert Mike Mayock says he believes in the talent of QB Johnny Manziel. Says he reminds him of Tarkenton & Flutie. He's right IMO— Newy Scruggs (@newyscruggs) February 18, 2014
The one thing always holding Manziel back has been maturity concerns, but at the combine, that's where he truly excelled.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a 15-minute session with the electrifying quarterback. According to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, they came away impressed. He met with the Oakland Raiders. According to NFL Radio, via NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, they were also impressed.
One scout, via Tampa Bay Buccaneers insider Jenna Laine, said Manziel "knocked it out of the park" during an interview:
Hearing Johnny Manziel absolutely knocked it out of the park in his team interviews. One scout told me, "He's a stud. Extremely bright."— JennaLaineBucs (@JennaLaineBucs) February 23, 2014
Wrong sports reference, but more praise nonetheless.
When will Manziel be drafted?
While Manziel undoubtedly has the talent, intangibles and poise on the field, he's now beginning to win teams over off of it, and the work ethic to continually get better is evident.
“That’s how I am. You can tell me ‘no’ all you want, but at the end of the day I’m going to win," Manziel said, via King. "I’m going to be successful.”
Manziel may never shake his large group of critics. But as he continues to gain admiration across the league, that's not going to matter.