Scouting the QBs: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

manziel1Finally, the time has come for FRG Scouting to begin breaking into the quarterback position after spending the last several weeks on the offensive linemen that will protect them.  First up is the lightning rod, Heisman Trophy winner, Johnnie Manziel.

There’s simply no denying the production that Manziel amassed while manning the Aggies offense.  In his two years as a starter, he threw for over 7,800 yards and 63 TDs while also gaining 2,170 yards on the ground and another 30 TDs.  He’s won a lot of games with magical throws and breath taking plays.  But with the good also comes the distractions that Manziel brings from his off-field persona.  He’s a guy who lives in, and creates, “the moment.”

The following is FRG Scouting’s evaluation of Johnny Manziel.

NAME:          Johnny Manziel
Position:      Quarterback
School:        Texas A&M
Height:         6’1”
Weight:         205lbs
40 yd dash:  4.60 (est)

Johnny Manziel, the dynamic Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from Texas A&M, enters the NFL standing ‘around’ 6-feet tall with an official measurement coming at the 2014 Scouting Combine; He weighs a bit over 200lbs and possesses a frame that is on the lean/skinny side…There isn’t another quarterback in the 2014 draft that has the athletic ability of Manziel; he is a true dual-threat, showcasing a smooth, gliding running style in the open field. While he’s not quite a straight-line burner, he excels at understanding angles and setting up the defender with subtle, coordinated upper and lower body fakes.  Manziel is the best running quarterback to enter the NFL since Michael Vick…His athletic ability and movement skills are an asset in the pocket; Showcases the ability to side-step the defender and keep a play alive even when the pocket breaks down…Possesses a compact throwing motion and a quick release; Manziel is able to get rid of the ball with a defender bearing down on him because of his quicker than average throwing motion…Manziel is capable of making all the throws on the route tree; Possesses a strong enough arm, displaying the kind of velocity that can get the ball to its target in a hurry…Excels in the short and intermediate passing games; Consistently puts the ball on target and within his receiver’s catch radius…A master of improvisation; Where most quarterbacks would fail, Manziel finds a way to make a play.  He has “it,” and brings a skill set that is beyond logical/traditional evaluation methods.

Unconventional footwork as a thrower; While he gets the ball out and to the target, he has work to do from the waist down that could increase his overall accuracy…Struggles to accurately drop the long ball in a bucket; Relied heavily on Mike Evans’ rare length to bail him out at times…Fails to consistently throw a tight spiral; Ball can wobble a bit during its flight…While not a reckless risk taker, he can cause you to scratch your head by making  throws that defy explanation; Concerns as to whether that style can be successful on next level…Smallish frame suggests durability issues when comparing his style versus NFL defenders…Off-field personality has potential to become distraction.

On the next level, Johnny Manziel projects as a starting-level quarterback who possesses the potential to be a special leader.  Is he the best thrower of a football?  No. But he’s plenty good enough as a passer, and he brings a unique level of athletic ability to the position that will make-up for his lacking measureables or other shortcomings. I have no concerns as to whether Manziel can complete an above-average rate of passes.  What makes him special is his ability to put a team on his back, complete passes and run for big yardage, all during critical points in a game. He has “it,” and while he doesn’t always make the right decisions off the field, he certainly has a competitive edge and drive that exudes “winner.”  Put the ball in his hands and let him do his thing. He won’t have perfect technique and he might make some bonehead throws, but he’ll make plays and win games.  And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

GRADE:  8.2 (1st Round)

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