2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Johnny Manziel

  • Running ability
  • Play-maker
  • Gunslinger attitude
  • Amazing instincts
  • Always seems a step ahead of the defense
  • Throws a good deep ball
  • Great at throwing on the run
  • Can make all the NFL throws
  • Dangerous threat on the ground
  • Difficult to sack
  • Good arm strength
  • Athletic
  • Ready to play immediately
  • Special
  • Upside

  • Weaknesses:
  • Pocket passing
  • Very short for the position
  • Lacks pocket presence
  • Needs to improve field vision
  • Has to develop ability to work through progressions
  • Runs, scrambles when he doesn’t have to
  • Makes some dumb throws
  • Can play too reckless
  • Needs to improve accuracy, ball placement
  • Lacks size
  • Durability
  • Sidearms some throws
  • Off-the-field concerns
  • Focus on football
  • Likes to party; celebrity lifestyle

  • Summary: Every year there are high-profile draft prospects who trigger a lot of debate. Manziel is probably the most high-profile and debated prospect since Tim Tebow in the 2010 NFL Draft.

    Manziel has a lot of positives and a lot of negatives entering the NFL. WalterFootball.com has spoken with scouts and coaches who feel torn about whether the positives or negatives are going to win out during his NFL career. Adding to the doubts is Manziel’s party lifestyle and questions whether he will be focused enough on football during his career.

    Manziel was the breakout star of college football in 2012 and became a national celebrity en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. The redshirt freshman dominated the SEC as a dual-threat quarterback. Manziel completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,706 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for 1,410 yards (1,571 net) with 21 touchdowns on the ground. Manziel was an absolute force. He played well against Alabama and destroyed Oklahoma to close out the year.

    Before his sophomore season, Manziel had a number of off-the-field run-ins and was investigated by the NCAA for violating rules regarding autograph signings. He was suspended for the first half of the season opener as a result, but of course, the NCAA couldn’t put one of its biggest cash cows on the shelf all season.

    Texas A&M lost to Alabama in Week 3 and, while Manziel had a couple painful mistakes, he had a tremendous game to light up one of the best defenses in college football – one that is loaded with a lot of future draft picks. Manziel completed 28-of-39 passes for 464 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran for 98 yards on 14 carries, too. Thanks to Manziel, the Aggies lit up the Crimson Tide defense to the tune of 42 points.

    After that outing, Manziel had a lot of big games, but didn’t play well late in the season while dealing with some injuries. His performance against LSU was bad, but he bounced back to lead a comeback win over Duke in his collegiate finale.

    In 2013, Manziel completed 70 percent of his passes for 4,114 yards with 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The redshirt sophomore ran for 923 yards (759 net) with nine scores, too. Manziel also was bailed out on a lot of jump balls by receiver Mike Evans. Manziel also had some phenomenal offensive line talent to block for him the past two seasons.

    Obviously, Manziel has great mobility. He is so dangerous when he is on the run with the threat to keep it himself or pass the ball. Manziel has an uncanny ability to scramble around and make an on-the-run throw that goes deep down the field for a big completion. A defense can do everything right, and Manziel still finds a way to make a big play that changes the game. He has a good arm and can make all the throws in the NFL. Manziel is deadly throwing on the run and getting out of the pocket.

    As a passer, Manziel has to get better at his ability to throw from the pocket. His pro day was scripted, and he hasn’t shown enough improvement in this regard. Manziel looked to run too quickly in college even when he had a great pocket to throw from. It will be critical for him to learn the ability to work quickly through his progressions and distribute the ball to the right receiver from the pocket. Becoming a consistently good pocket-passer will be the big hurdle for Manziel panning out. He is hurt in this regard by being short.

    For the NFL, Manziel is a tough player to predict. Both scouts and coaches have told WalterFootball.com that they think Manziel could have some early success in the NFL. They think he could pull off some whacky plays and help lead his team to some points and wins, but over time they think his effectiveness could wane. Teams will start scheming to take away Manziel’s strengths and force him to be a pocket passer. The hits will add up and he could land injuries or lose some ability to perform while playing injured. These sources feel his height and frame could hold him back in the long term.

    Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Manziel could fall a lot lower than expected on draft day. WalterFootball.com knows some quarterback-needy teams that plan to pass on Manziel because they don’t feel he can be trusted off the field. They wonder how he’s going to respond to the money and celebrity lifestyle of an NFL quarterback.

    There are sources that feel that Manziel stands a good shot of falling on draft day to late in the first round, and some feel he could even go fall to Round 2. However, it only takes one team to fall in love and pull the trigger on Manziel in the top 10.

    Player Comparison: Michael Vick. It wasn’t easy to come up with a comparison because Manziel is such a unique player. The closest thing in the NFL could be Michael Vick. Both players are great athletes who are dangerous weapons with their feet. However, both them are short and struggle with field vision. Vick has had a lot of injuries and been reckless with the football. Manziel could deal with those issues as well. Vick has never justified the hype that he’s gotten throughout his career, which could end up being the case with Manziel.

    NFL Matches: Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Minnesota

    There are a few landing spots for Manziel. The Houston Texans lead off the 2014 NFL Draft with the No. 1-overall pick. If the Texans take a quarterback with that pick, it will be Blake Bortles. Houston needs a franchise quarterback, but taking Bortles with the first selection instead of Jadeveon Clowney would be a massive reach, and the organization wouldn’t be taking the top player on its draft board. The Texans could pass on Bortles and target a quarterback in the second round or after trading back in the first round. If Houston takes Clowney and Manziel is available at No. 33, the Texans would probably grab the signal-caller.

    The Jaguars and Browns are desperate for a franchise quarterback. Manziel could be the solution in Jacksonville or Cleveland, but like the Texans, both teams would be passing on higher-rated position players to take Manziel. The Browns could take another player with the fourth pick and target Manziel or another quarterback who falls to pick No. 26.

    Oakland traded for Matt Schaub, but the Raiders are still in the market for a long-term quarterback. Manziel would be very lucky to land with offensive coordinator Greg Olson, but given the state of the Oakland franchise, it may not be in position to roll the dice on Manziel.

    Even though the Buccaneers signed Josh McCown, Tampa Bay needs a long-term starter at quarterback. The Bucs could groom Manziel for a year before letting him take over, though he would be a bad fit in Tampa Bay’s party scene. That scene played a role in Josh Freeman becoming a bust, and he entered the NFL more focused on football than Manziel has been.

    The Vikings are potentially the lowest that Manziel could fall in the top 10. Minnesota needs a franchise quarterback, but it seems unlikely the Vikings would pick Manziel considering the critique of him by new head coach Mike Zimmer. Perhaps that was smoke, but Manziel may not be a good fit for Norv Turner’s offense.

    If Manziel gets past Minnesota, he’ll probably fall deep into the first round where either Cleveland will end his fall or he could slip to one of these quarterback-needy teams in the second round.


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