Scouting Report: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A & M
Brace yourself for Johnny Football
I can’t lie. I’ve been waiting to write this scouting report for well over a year now. At Rotobahn, we’ve been sold on Johnny Football for a long while. The 2013 season only solidified our belief that Johnny Manziel is the NFL’s next big thing. I suggest you get ahead of the curve on this idea if you are not already. At Rotobahn, we just don’t see any way around it. This player is simply on another level when it comes to ability. He’s special. Get ready to see things you’ve never seen before, folks ... this kid is going to blow your mind on a weekly basis.
I hear a lot of pundits speculating about whether the former Texas A&M star is ready for the speed of the NFL. My question to these folks is this.... Is the NFL ready for Johnny Football? Sure, he’s less than ideal in terms of size. The thing is, will it matter? We understand that Manziel has, in the words of Judge Smails, a certain 'zest for living' but will it matter? Manziel plays a brand of football that will scare conventional minds and football purists, but will it matter? Manziel has less arm strengh than some of the other great quarterbacks, but will it matter? No. None of it will.
In the words of Bill Murray as Tripper, it just doesn’t matter.
Manziel is just that good. We’re not saying that he has no weaknesses. We see them and we understand them. We just don’t think they will matter when things are said and done. When properly scaled, his weaknesses are heavily outweighed by his strengths.
Here’s a quick look at the some of the things we like about Manziel.
- Arm - Manziel’s arm is probably underrated. It certainly was going into the 2013 season. He can make all the throws, but more importantly, his feel, timing and accuracy are all top-shelf. He has a ton of arm talent. No problems here whatsoever. Quite the opposite, actually. His ability to make throws when moving to his left is really something to watch.
- Eyes - In terms of vision, he is quite simply off the charts. We’ve never seen anybody better at his age and that vision is equally impressive whether he is running with the ball or scanning the field as a passer. He’s Joe Montana meets Marcus Allen. It’s a combination we just aren’t used to seeing. It reminds me of when Bird and Magic came to the NBA and changed the game just because of the way they saw it.
- Feet - He is obviously light on his feet and he showed the ability to work through deeper drops in his second season. He improved dramatically as a pocket passer in 2013. It’s all pluses here based on what we see on tape. We’ve heard about his inconsistencies in this area, but we feel that he is right where he ought to be at this stage of his career, given his varied skill set. Too many people, in our opinion, are underestimating Manziel’s ability to learn and to be coached.
- Agility - Do I even need to fill this space in? Manziel is as elusive a QB as you will ever find. Period. He could play in the NFL as a tailback or as a receiver ... easily. That he brings these skills to the quarterback position is mind-boggling and a bonus. Believe it or not, we think he could still be a solid quarterback with only average agility. That’s how much we believe in his ability to throw the football at a high level.
- Competitiveness - Again, Manziel is simply off the charts. His on-field mental makeup is exactly what we look for in a quarterback. Is he cocky? Absolutely, and you would be too if you had his ability. In short, this kid wants to win as much as anybody and he is willing to pay the price. This is an obvious common thread among great players in all sports. All indications are that Johnny has that inner drive that athletes like Michael Jordan are famous for.
- Maturity and makeup - This is a red flag area for a lot of fans and pundits. Much has been written about Manziel’s off-field problems. He’s been hung out to dry for various off-field missteps, but we see most of this stuff as peripheral and or typical for a young man with a lot of confidence and bravado. Yes, he has some growing up to do, but we think it’s mostly overblown. This kid is not Todd Marinovich, folks. We also think he’s a leader that puts in the time when it comes to his craft and that’s what really matters. Metaphorically speaking, this is a guy you want in your fox hole. Yes, we are totally disregarding the tweets, the parties and the Manning Camp situation. We just don’t think they matter. As we said a few years back with Cam Newton, we think Johnny’s competitive nature wins the day. Lastly, it’s also worth noting that Manziel’s attitude and enthusiasm are infectious. We see him as being a very positive force in a locker room and in the huddle.
Now, if there was ever a player that required no highlight reel, Manziel is it, but just in case you live in a cave or do not watch the college game, here’s a glimpse at what you’ll be seeing on a weekly basis in 2014.
Show me the guy who played like this in college and failed in the NFL. I await your e-mails and look forward to debunking them.
Let’s be really clear here. We don’t just think Manziel is going to make it. We think he will be an elite quarterback. This kid is the real deal. Manziel defies comparison for the most part and the only player that we’ve ever seen who fits at all is Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton. You could reasonably claim that Johnny Football is a modern day Fran Tarkenton. He's even quicker and has a better arm. The suddenness of Manziel's first step and his cuts in the open field are truly special for any player at any posiion.
As always, we’ll hold off on drawing the big fantasy conclusions until we know where Manziel will be playing. Having said that, I am pretty sure he is going to be a QB1 for fantasy purposes right out of the gate, just like RGIII and Cam Newton were as rookies. The foot-point potential combined with his passing ability gives him incredible upside.
Based on what we've seen so far, we feel that either Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater should be the first player taken in this year's draft. We don't think that guys like Blake Bortles or Derrick Carr are on the same level. If we were the Texans, we'd already have this thing narrowed down to two.
For all of you fantasy geeks out there. Just get ready to draft Johnny Football.
This article will be updated after the Combine.
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