It's a possibility that Johnny Manziel will one day be an All-Pro quarterback in the NFL. But it's unlikely the general manager that makes him a top 10 pick will keep his job long enough to see that day.
As the 2014 NFL draft approaches, the hype surrounding the former Heisman Trophy winner continues to grow. Since the end of the season, Johnny Football has been hitting the pre-draft circuit and winning over pundits—a trend that hit an all-time high when he turned in a dazzling pro day that included throwing with pads on.
Now it's becoming increasingly difficult to find a mock draft that has him being taken outside of the top 10.
That doesn't mean that any team in the top 10 should take Manziel, though.
The appeal of Manziel is easy to see. He was highly productive during his time at Texas A&M. The flashy signal-caller racked up nearly 10,000 total yards in two seasons at College Station and was easily the most exciting player in college football during that time span.
It stands to reason that if your favorite team is picking in the first 10 selections, a little bit of excitement wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
But think of it like this: If you make a list of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, is "exciting" the first word that comes to mind?
Names like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady spring forward, followed by attributes such as efficient and cerebral. In fact, in the case of players like Manning and Brady, "boring" would be a more appropriate adjective.
All of them are successful quarterbacks because they understand where the ball needs to go on a given play and can throw the ball there accurately and on time.
While Manziel has displayed excellent arm strength, athleticism and even leadership in his two years as the Aggie starter, decision-making hasn't always been his greatest strength. He threw 22 interceptions in his collegiate career, with 13 of those coming in his second season as the starter.
Moreover, Manziel threw more than one interception in four games in 2013. By comparison, fellow prospect Teddy Bridgewater had a total of four interceptions in his final season at Louisville.
Even more concerning for Manziel's immediate pro prospects were the two games that he played against LSU. While Manziel has been praised for rising to the occasion against Alabama in his freshman and sophomore year, he fell flat in both performances against the Tigers.
The key to stopping Johnny Football in both cases? Keeping him in the pocket.
A look at DraftBreakdown's cut up of Manziel in the two LSU games reveals that the Tigers, aided by the most athletic front in the SEC, did a good job of forcing Manziel to beat them without buying extra time outside the tackle box.
The results in both games were good for Les Miles and Co. Manziel was a combined 45-of-97 for 500 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions and an 0-2 record.
Yes, that's just a two-game sample in an otherwise outstanding career. But Manziel's going to see that strategy employed on a weekly basis in the NFL with even better athletes than Barkevious Mingo. The question is, does he have what it takes to adjust his style to the NFL and continue to see success?
"I had more fun with Manziel than I did most guys," Gruden said. "I'd love to have him. It takes courage to pull the ball down and reverse field and do some of the crazy things that Favre and Manziel do. There's going to be consequences when sometimes it doesn't work out. But it takes a tremendous amount of guts and courage to go make a play when there's nothing there instead of throwing the ball away."
However, even Gruden acknowledges the consequences of Manziel's schoolyard style of play. Regardless of how Johnny Football develops, there are going to be some very bad days for him in the NFL, not only during his first season, but also in subsequent years after that.
General managers selecting in the top 10 are generally on thin ice as it is. Now more than ever the NFL is run a "win now" mindset. The question any general manager must ask himself before taking Manziel with a top 10 selection is, "Can I bet my job on this prospect?"
The GM that answers that question with a yes will be as great a risk taker as Manziel himself.
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