Johnny Manziel achieved celebrity status well before entering the NFL draft. He is hot tempered and arrogant, but above all else, he is a phenomenal football player.
Johnny Manziel is a special type of talent and person. Normally, a top quarterback prospect in the draft completes his pro day on the date selected by the college they attended. Not Manziel.
Typically, prospects that go through their pro day workouts do so in shorts and a t-shirt. Not Johnny Football.
Traditionally, your pro day is not attended by both a former president and the current governor of your home state. This was not the case for Manziel.
Manziel stars in McDonald's commercials with LeBron James, is good pals with rapper Drake and is constantly in the news. Whether it be for drinking with his parents before he was 21 or his autograph scandal, Manziel couldn't keep his name out of the news. All these factors have attributed to the young quarterback's rapid ascension to celebrity status.
Manziel's pro day on Thursday was a sight to behold. Media, NFL scouts, coaches, George W. Bush, and Texas governor Rick Perry lined up to watch Manziel go through his pro day workout.
The uniqueness of the pro day was not only due to the guest list, but also because of the attire Manziel decided to wear throughout—a helmet and shoulder pads.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt asked Manziel why he decided to go through his pro day in such attire:
Just asked Manziel why the pads and helmet at pro day: "Isn't the game played with them on?"— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 27, 2014
Manziel did not disappoint. He completed 61 of 64 passes while showing good arm strength, good accuracy and a nice touch on the deep ball.
None of this should be a surprise to the people who have watched Manziel dominate college football at Texas A&M the last two seasons.
However, Manziel is a much more polished quarterback in the pocket than he gets credit for.
Football Outsiders' Matt Waldman details Manziel's ability to throw from the pocket in his scouting report:
Here’s a deep sideline fade thrown from the opposite hash on the first drive of the game. Manziel reads Alabama’s single-high safety and both linebackers blitzing up the middle and delivers the ball in rhythm off a three-step drop.
The velocity, arc, and placement high and to the outside shoulder of the receiver are all characteristics of a good sideline fade. The fact that the pass spans 34 yards from the far hash to the near sideline is another demonstration of quality arm strength. Manziel isn’t scrambling around and throwing the ball to wide-open receivers; he’s making legitimate NFL-caliber plays against one of the best teams in college football within the play’s designed framework.
A lot of people are in awe of Manziel's unorthodox playmaking and all the Houdini-like acts he does on the football field. These types of plays are not what will make Manziel a good NFL quarterback. More importantly, it will be his exceptional timing, touch and accuracy from the pocket that will help him excel.
While Manziel makes a plethora of plays outside the pocket and on the run, he makes just as many plays in the pocket, showing good anticipation and accuracy on an abundance of his throws.
Celebrity status aside, Manziel is a damn good quarterback.
Any team that passes on Manziel for fear of the media circus that will follow him will be making a huge mistake.
With a little bit of time and development, Manziel can lead a team to the playoffs and beyond.