In my latest mock draft I had Johnny Manziel at #4 to Cleveland.
He might need to be moved up even higher.
One performance doesn’t make a career, but making your last impression a good one can be crucial.
Manziel’s display against Duke will have the NFL talking today.
Everyone knows what he offers by now — incredible scrambling skills, the ability to improvise and extend plays, underrated talent as a passer and the ability to run a thoroughly modern NFL offense (including the read option).
Everyone knows the negatives too. The erratic mistakes, the plays where he tries to do too much, the lack of a big time arm (I’d argue it’s good enough, just not top-end) and the laundry list of bizarre off the field stories that include this article by ESPN that made him sound like a walking temper-tantrum.
But last night perhaps allayed some of those fears.
The Aggies trailed Duke 28-10 and 35-17. Defensively they were the usual shambles — conceding touchdowns on Duke’s first five possessions. And there was Manziel — rallying the troops. Leading his team. Pleading with his defense to get a stop, to take the football away.
All the while he battled away on to keep his team in the game — before leading a sensational comeback in a 52-48 victory.
This is what NFL teams want to see. No tantrums. No sulking. A man determined to win, taking responsibility and lifting every single player on that A&M sideline.
Once again he did things only he seems capable of. Take this touchdown for example…
Seriously, have you ever seen anything like that?
I’m a sucker for improvisation. It’s the single most underrated quality a quarterback can have. I don’t want a signal caller who collapses when his initial read or two isn’t there. I don’t want to rely on someone who buckles if the defense offers an exotic look, or wins at the LOS.
I want a guy who can make something out of nothing. Manziel is better at that than any quarterback we’ll ever see in college football.
He doesn’t need to be a choir boy. He can go to parties dressed as Scooby-Doo, wear a Tim Tebow jersey, say whatever he wants on Twitter. He just needs to prove he can be a leader. Whether he’s up for the 5:30am alarm call to be the first in the building, we won’t know until he makes the league.
But last night I guarantee a heck of a lot of NFL teams were salivating about Johnny Football being their guy.
Want a great example of how he acted as a leader last night? Mike Evans got into an unnecessary tussle with the #6 for Duke who was covering him early in the game. He got one silly flag for reacting to whatever was going on there — and added a second later on.
Manziel could sense he wasn’t focused — and this happened…
Again, that’s a guy taking responsibility. Instead of letting the coaches deal with it, Manziel does their job for them. For what it’s worth, Evans did settle down after this and made some plays.
So he might not be a Russell Wilson-esque workaholic who lives and breathes game tape. But he might be responsible enough to know he’s the quarterback and he has to lead by example.
I’ve no doubt a lot of GM’s will be digging out the Alabama game from last year. They’ll watch it, breathe it in.
Convince themselves even more.
We need this guy.
Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Minnesota. I’m almost certain that one of those teams is going to talk themselves into drafting Manziel in the top ten. And why not?
The Texans need a signal caller. Are they any more likely to win with Teddy Bridgewater?
The Jags need a reason to get excited. They need a face of the franchise, someone to build around. Manziel can get people talking about Jacksonville.
Cleveland is looking to end years of misery and are reportedly known admirers.
Oakland has nothing right now. What have they got to lose?
Minnesota’s spent the last three years trying to get by with mediocre, boring quarterbacks. Will they go for the home run?
Heck — even the Rams at #2 should be all over this. Who really wants to face this guy twice a year in the NFC West?
I certainly don’t.
Quite frankly I’d rather fail as a NFL GM putting my faith in this kind of quarterback instead of hoping a Sam Bradford pans out. Or that a Teddy Bridgewater will be better than average.
I’ll hold my hands up if I’m wrong, but I suspect last night is just the beginning of a huge clamour that ends up with Manziel going in the top three picks. Some of the teams listed above will talk themselves into feeling they have to have him.
Quite frankly if the Seahawks didn’t have Wilson — I suspect I’d be banging the drum for the guy myself.
The NFL will be more fun with Jonny Football. And I think he’s going to head into the pro’s as a top five pick.