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Biggest negative: Footwork in the pocket
I'm not in a position to comment on his alleged party/rockstar lifestyle because I don't know Johnny Manziel, and I don't know if you can quantify how or if his personal interests have affected his football talent in any way. A franchise quarterback needs to have football as the center of his life, but you still see Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers and a bunch of other guys doing commercials and basking a little bit in the spotlight. It's about creating a healthy balance between personal and professional interests.
Manziel's biggest on-field hurdle will be cleaning up the little things in his footwork and mechanics, which will translate into him becoming a more dangerous passer in the pocket.
An athlete who could run around and improvise his way out of trouble in college, Manziel will now need to develop into a better quarterback in the pocket to last in the NFL.
Shorter throwers such as Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have figured out how to play within the structure of a pro offense, mitigating their height deficiencies.
Brees is a master manipulator of the pocket, using quick feet and smart, subtle movements within a small area to create space and throwing windows. Wilson will escape the pocket and create when necessary, but he doesn't bail out early and trusts himself to step into the pocket and deliver down the field.
Manziel needs the same tools. He can run around and make improbable plays out of nothing on five or six snaps per game. But for the other 20-25 passing plays every Sunday, he needs to have the ability to show patience, awareness and confidence in the pocket. Unlike most college programs, NFL defenses have the athletes and game plans ready to force Manziel to beat them from the pocket.
“He doesn’t want to step up into the pocket," former MVP quarterback Rich Gannon told Peter King of Sports Illustrated. "If you watch him here, he’s a guy that likes to drift. There’s a little bit of push, but he could step up. But he wants to get outside because it’s easier for him."
Manziel is entering the NFL with similar game-breaking potential as Michael Vick. But Vick has had an up-and-down career, thanks in part to his inability to consistently dominate from the pocket. Manziel can be a great one if he masters the little aspects of playing within the framework of an NFL pocket.