If you’ve never heard of Johnny Manziel, better known as Johnny Football, there’s a decent chance that you’ve been living under a rock for the past 9 months. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M after an outstanding redshirt freshman season that saw him become one of only 5 players in major college football history to throw for over 3,000 yards and run for over 1,000 in the same season. He garnered quite a bit of attention with his unbelievable performance against eventual national champion Alabama, where he lead the Aggies to a 29-24 win on 24-31 passing for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as running for 92 yards. He helped Texas A&M make a seamless transition to the highly competitive SEC, and has pushed them into conference title contention for this upcoming season.
Over this time, we have also come to find out that Manziel is a normal 20-year old college student, as he likes to party, and obviously he makes some decisions that he regrets. This lifestyle that he leads is one that is not uncommon at all among college students, but given that he is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, he’s in the spotlight much more than your typical college kid. It seems like every day he’s in the news for something that he did, most recently for leaving the Manning’s football camp a day early. It’s unfair to put such constant coverage on a young guy, but that’s how it is when you’re the starting quarterback of a major college football team.
Another instance of him being in the news was when he sent out a late night tweet that said something to the effect of “Can’t wait to get out of College Station.” As you know, College Station is the city that Texas A&M is located in. This had me, and many analysts, thinking that Johnny Football is going to leave college as soon as he can (after this season), and head for the bright lights of the National Football League.
Unfortunately for Johnny, it appears that he is going to have some stiff competition in this year’s quarterback class if he chooses to enter the draft. There are some names that the casual fan may know like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, and it is also stocked with a few little known names like David Fales from San Jose State and Fresno State’s Derek Carr. Even though Manziel is a Heisman winner, it’s going to take a lot of work to standout amongst that type of talent.
Regardless, he’s probably going to be a first round pick. His blend of passing ability and running ability is something that teams are dying for as the league moves to more read-option formations. There is another thing that could hold him back in the eyes of NFL teams, however, and that is his size. Standing just 6’1, Manziel does not have the prototypical height that teams look for in their starting quarterbacks (6’3 and above is usually ideal), and they may fear that he would be a constant injury risk.
To combat this fear, Manziel would just have to point to two similarly statured quarterbacks; Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Brees is 6′ tall, but has become one of the best quarterbacks in the league due to his accuracy and quick release and Wilson, who heard all of the things that Manziel will hear prior to the draft, had a fantastic rookie season and showed that he shouldn’t have fallen to the 3rd round. The success of Wilson, especially, should help out Johnny Football’s draft stock.
Once he gets to the NFL, though, what’s his career going to look like? The best historical comparison that I could come up with was another college football star; Doug Flutie. Flutie is remembered for his Hail Mary pass against the University of Miami in 1984, but he was a solid player outside of that. He was only 5’10, so even Johnny has a height advantage on him. He went on to play 12 years in the NFL, with varying degrees of success, and is probably more remembered for his college days then his days in the NFL.
Both players had a knack for extending plays and “making something out of nothing” as they say. This is a major advantage compared to many of the quarterbacks in the NFL who are like statues in the pocket, as QB’s with good change of direction skills can wear out a defense and make it easier to pass.
On top of that ability, Manziel has pretty good arm strength that’s at least at an acceptable level as far as NFL standards go. He has great accuracy, and his ability to throw just as well on the run as when he’s in the pocket make him a hot commodity. So now, we get to the question that is posed in the title of the article, will Johnny Manziel dominate the NFL the way he has the NCAA?
Quite frankly, no, I don’t think he will. I don’t expect him to burst onto the scene and grab all the headlines like he has in College Station, but what I do expect is that he will be a quality starting quarterback for the better part of a decade in the league. While it may not be as glamourous as winning all the accolades he did in college, it’s still better than what most quarterbacks are able to accomplish.
I want to thank Carey and Sports & Swag for letting me come write an article for them, it’s an honor to write for such a great site. I’m usually an NBA guy, and you can find me at theleaguenews.com, where you’ll also find Carey writing an article! Thanks for reading, everybody.