Johnny Manziel's Pro Day Solidifies Him as 2014 NFL Draft's Top Quarterback

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMarch 27, 2014

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel passes the ball during a drill at pro day for NFL football representatives in College Station, Texas, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)
Patric Schneider/Associated Press

Johnny Manziel has solidified himself as the 2014 NFL draft's top quarterback prospect after a dazzling pro day on Thursday.

That's not a statement that seemed plausible upon the conclusion of the former Texas A&M standout's college career. However, with a new mature attitude and an off-the-charts performance at his pro day, Manziel has pulled off a dramatic turnaround.      

It all started at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, where the new and improved Manziel was on display. He was poised when interviewed by media and mature during meetings with NFL executives.

At that point, one question arose: Was Manziel just acting, or did he actually buy into the fact that he needed to mature heading into the NFL?

It appears that question has been answered.

After a plethora of intelligent interviews, a strong showing at the combine and putting on an absolute clinic at this pro day, Manziel is most definitely a quarterback that a team can entrust with its future.

During his pro day, Manziel flourished with the extra attention around him. NFL general managers, head coaches and even a former President of the United States were all on hand.

Despite a frenzy of media and high-profile NFL executives around him, Manziel stepped up in a big way. His big arm and improved fundamentals were on display on Thursday:

After he completed 61 of his 64 passing attempts, several analysts came away immensely impressed. According to Bryan Fischer of, Kurt Warner was gushing over the quarterback. Warner said, "He showed us he can make all the throws. That deep ball was impeccable. Great touch, good enough velocity and was able to set it out there."

Warner further commented on Manziel's throwing mechanics:

Draft analyst Mike Mayock weighed in as well: "I think (Manziel) loves competition. He lights up like a Christmas tree with all these GMs here."

During his post-workout press conference with the NFL Network, Manziel got a chance to speak about his past and future:

I'm an extremely coachable kid and I'm ready to learn. That's the biggest thing for me. There were things that I wasn't asked to do at A&M, protections and so many things you have to do, so throw it at me. I want it. I need to learn it eventually. I'm tired of saying 'Man, I wish I would have known that when I was there.' Let's try and get ahead of the game.

I just want to let these guys know that my focus is football. This is my life, this is what I love to do. I've never been more dedicated my entire life. I'm so excited. I understand the challenge.

Here's a look at Manziel's full interview:

Manziel looks fiercely dedicated to improve in all aspects—mentally, physically and fundamentally. He's certainly off to a great start, proving he can handle all the pressure by ending his pro day with a bang:

His stunning performance received plenty of praise via Twitter:

Keeping all of this in mind, what exactly sets Manziel apart from the draft's other quarterback prospects? After all, candidates such as Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr are receiving plenty of their own hype.

As far as mechanics go, Manziel has shown the most improvement since last season. His footwork has cleaned up, his weight distribution has improved and his release looks very clean. These changes allow Manziel to deliver some of the best throws of his young career, which he's been demonstrating this offseason.

Bridgewater, on the other hand, struggled mightily during his pro day. He certainly looks and acts the part of an elite NFL quarterback; however, struggling under perfect conditions does not bode well for any prospect, let alone a top name at the most important position in football. He's making the same changes as Manziel, but seems to be struggling with his new technique.

Bortles has the same story as Bridgewater, as he is still working on his mechanics—that showed during his pro day as several of his passes were off target—and looks to still be a work in progress entering the NFL.

Though Bortles has ideal size and certainly offers potential, teams looking for an immediate impact player would be taking a risk on him early in Round 1.

Carr has all the intangibles that NFL scouts love with great size and a rocket arm. However, he is the least NFL-ready quarterback prospect here. He doesn't have the same pro-style experience as the other big-school candidates, and may benefit by sitting out and learning during his first season.

It certainly looks as though that Manziel has the upper hand in comparison.

Everything seems to be coming together for this young signal-caller. The more he keeps up at his current pace, the more NFL teams will begin to buy in.

Manziel is on his way to a very possible No. 1 overall selection in this year's draft.