A lot of hype surrounds former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel ahead of the 2014 NFL draft, and whether his flashy style of play will translate to the pros is a subject of great debate.
Count former Houston Oilers star QB Warren Moon as one of the prominent voices who has doubts about Manziel.
In a radio interview on Wednesday with In The Loop's Nick Wright and John Lopez, Moon suggested that Manziel isn't big or fast enough to make it in the NFL and went on to compare him to Tim Tebow, via CBS Houston's Will Grubb:
You’re talking about taking a guy number one overall in the draft and he’s 5’11. He didn’t really run that fast at the combine, only about a 4.6 which was closer to a 4.7, so you are talking about a small guy that’s not very fast in an NFL that’s big strong and fast. He likes to run around and make plays and he was able to do that in college. I just don’t know how well that’s going to transition into the National Football League.
Many will listen to what Moon has to say because of his prominent status in Texas and the fact that the Houston Texans hold the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. What the front office will do with that pick is pure speculation at this point, but Manziel is a possibility.
Moon was a decent athlete in his heyday but beat opponents from the pocket. That is where Moon suggests Manziel will have to make his living rather than running around and making plays on scramble drills. To cap things off, Moon compared Manziel's college success with that of ex-Florida star Tebow, noting that Tebow didn't pan out in the NFL and that Manziel could be subject to a similar fate:
I need to see a little bit more of him as a pocket passer because that’s where quarterbacks in the National Football League are going to make their money. All the running around and creating plays is great, but when it boils down to it, you have to be able to sit in the pocket and make throws...As a college quarterback, he was one of the greatest to ever play, but so was Tim Tebow. He had a tough time making that transition because he was that same style of quarterback.
In comparing the throwing abilities of Manziel and Tebow, it's pretty clear that Johnny Football is far superior in that regard. From more consistent footwork, accuracy, mechanics and overall touch, there isn't any area Manziel is inferior to Tebow in, with the possible exception of arm strength.
Tebow has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes in his NFL career and is currently out of the league because of it. Despite the concerns about Manziel's size and his occasional recklessness in running the ball for the Aggies, he shouldn't see his completion percentage drop anywhere near that low of a mark.
Scanning the field and reading defenses were elements that Tebow struggled with coming out of college and didn't improve all that much when he arrived. Manziel has a big leg up in that regard and has a quasi-sixth sense for feeling pressure. The difference is that Manziel will look to deliver the ball downfield or hang in the pocket and go through his progressions on a more consistent basis than Tebow ever did.
Another high-profile former quarterback in Fran Tarkenton feels Manziel is favorably comparable to himself—an analogy USA Today's George Schroeder found fitting:
The comparison by Moon makes some sense based on the fact that both Manziel and Tebow won the Heisman Trophy, strung together some magnificent performances and are two of the biggest college stars ever. That's just about where the similarities end, though.
If Manziel's ability to throw the football was anywhere near as relatively unimpressive as Tebow's, he wouldn't be discussed as a potential top-five draft choice. There is little chance Manziel falls out of the top 10, given that the Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings could all stand to add a franchise quarterback within the first eight overall picks.
Given how passionate and competitive Manziel appears to be on the field, chatter like this from Moon and others should only fuel him in his quest to become a long-term NFL franchise quarterback.