By Tim Nielson: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had the NFL scouts, general managers and coaches raving about his talent at Thursday’s Pro Day workout at Texas A&M’s training center. Manziel, 5’11”, chose to workout with his shoulder pads and helmet on for some reason. He connected on 61 of 64 passes, and he had the NFL talking heads gushing about his talent.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said that Manziel’s arm strength is at least as good as UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, and better than Louisiana Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. That’s high praise considering that the 6’5” Bortles is considered to have a really strong arm.
“He showed us he can make all the throws,” Kurt Warner said to the NFL Network. “That deep ball was impeccable. Great touch, good enough velocity and was able to set it out there.”
Manziel’s arm strength has never been in question. His problems are related to his small size, his tendency to run the football all the time, his lack of pocket passing ability, the fact that he doesn’t make reads, and his light weight. It’s not going to help a team if they draft him and he’s running around all the time like a smaller version of Robert Griffin III.
Small running quarterbacks don’t last long in the NFL before they start suffering injuries, and Manziel is smaller than usual. If a team needs a running back, they can draft one. They don’t need a quarterback that runs the ball, especially a tiny one like Manziel. What teams need are quarterbacks that can stay in the pocket, make reads, and deliver the ball with his accuracy without turning the ball over. Manziel isn’t a pocket passer, and his first instinct is to run the ball when he’s pressured or even when he’s not. Manziel rolls out and starts running even when he doesn’t need to.
“My main thing is I’m not scared of anything,” Manziel said to the NFL Network. “I don’t play that way. Why come out here in a scripted workout and be scared of anything? I’m an extremely coachable kid and I’m ready to learn.”
Here’s the thing with Manziel. For him to be worth drafting, he’ll have to remain as the same player he’s been with A&M. He’ll need to keep running around and throwing on the run. If a team tries to change him into a pocket passer, which they’ll need to do in order to keep him from getting injured, he’ll not be any better than a number of quarterbacks that teams can get in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the draft.
There’s no point in drafting him unless a team is going to be willing to let him continue to play the way he’s always played, and deal with the injuries that will result from that kind of play. You can’t change Manziel and hope to have a quarterback any better than what you’ll have if you draft a quarterback lower in the draft.