Johnny Manziel Will Become Most Productive Quarterback from 2014 Draft Class

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMay 5, 2014

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 09:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates a touchdown pass in the third quarter during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field on November 9, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

As the 2014 NFL draft approaches, former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel remains the most polarizing—and unpredictable—prospect.

There are plenty of varying opinions regarding Manziel—and his potential as a franchise quarterback.'s Charley Casserly doesn't think Manziel will be drafted in the first round.

On the other hand, Peter King of Sports Illustrated recently reported the interest of yet another NFL franchise in Manziel—the St. Louis Rams:

One other piece of knowledge I got confirmed Sunday: Rams GM Les Snead recently went to Texas Tech and met at length with coach Kliff Kingsbury—Manziel's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at A&M in 2012—and came away thinking Manziel could adjust to life well as an NFL passer. Does that mean the Rams will take Manziel if he's there at 13? I am still dubious. But I can tell you the Rams like him a lot.

Despite the numerous available opinions regarding Manziel, he has what it takes to become the most productive quarterback in this year's draft class.

That's not to say he isn't without flaws. Certainly, some of the fantastic moments he put together during his college career will almost be impossible to recreate in the NFL. However, Manziel may come with fewer deficiencies than other quarterbacks in the 2014 draft.

Teddy Bridgewater's draft stock has been plummeting. Many thought this was due to his lackluster pro day—it was, but only in part. Draft expert Mike Mayock weighed in on his thoughts on Bridgewater during a NFL draft media conference call:

To be honest with you, it's from a different prism. I am questioning arm strength, I am questioning accuracy. I watched him take three sacks consecutively against I think it was the University of South Florida. His stats were outstanding in that game. He threw the ball well, but he took three sacks I couldn't stand.

Manziel doesn't come with these same questions. Mayock even compared some intangible qualities between Bridgewater and Manziel:

As far as the face of the franchise, sometimes that's not definable. I look at Johnny Manziel. Whatever it is, he has it. I know on Saturday, Sunday, whatever day you play on, he's going to show up with an edge about him thinking he's the best guy on the field and he's going to elevate the play of those around him. I believe that.

After beginning the draft process as the most NFL-ready quarterback, Bridgewater is suddenly looking more like a second-round selection. Manziel is still holding strong.

Blake Bortles is yet another first-round prospect in the mix.

Sure, Bortles has the size and frame coveted in an NFL quarterback; however, upon looking at his footage—even during his impressive pro day—there are technical detriments in his game that he has yet to overcome.

Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports weighed in on his thoughts on Bortles versus Manziel:

Bortles, and not Johnny Manziel, is the biggest boom-or-bust quarterback who might go in the first round. Bortles might end up being the first quarterback taken, and could very well be the best of the group because he has tremendous physical skill. He looked very good last season in wins against Penn State, Louisville and Baylor and threw for 358 yards in a near-upset of South Carolina, so he has shown he can play well against good competition. However, the questions about him could prove to be very real. We don't know a ton about Bortles and how he'll develop. It's a riddle that some general manager is going to stake his job on later this week.

That's a rather telling comment from Schwab.

Whereas Manziel looks to be able to come in and contribute immediately—a highly coveted aspect of a quarterback prospect in today's NFL—teams may have to wait on Bortles' development.

The only other quarterback who's seemingly mentioned in draft circles as a potential first-round candidate is Derek Carr of Fresno State.

With Carr, it's a much different story, as he will absolutely need time to develop. If he does go in the first round, expect him to land on a team like the Arizona Cardinals. With Carson Palmer in place, Carr will get the necessary time to sit and learn before he eventually takes the reins.

All of a sudden, the draft's first-round quarterback prospects have shifted in a big way.

Bridgewater has become a rather iffy prospect and may slide into the second round. Sure, he could start right away, but will he be able to produce efficiently given Mayock's assessment?

Bortles is a bona fide first-rounder; however, with his technical issues, it's easy to speculate he could have a rough time adjusting to the NFL.

Then we have Manziel.

He's been impressing NFL teams with a mature attitude during interviews. His stellar pro day featured a vastly improved technique. His ability to make plays both with his arm and his legs bodes well for getting off to a fast start as a rookie.

So, is Manziel as much of a gamble as was originally thought?

It certainly doesn't look that way.

By the end of the 2014 season, whichever NFL team lands Manziel in the upcoming draft will be highly rewarded.