Throughout the years in the NFL, the quarterback position has become increasingly important. So every year come NFL draft time, the QBs are the most scrutinized of any position. One of the QBs coming into this year’s draft has already been one of the countries most scrutinized athletes throughout his college football career, Johnny Manziel. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that NFL scouts, writers and experts have seemed to disagree at every step about both Manziel’s draft position and his NFL potential.
In recent years, the reliance on young quarterbacks has become even more important for NFL teams. The success of QBs like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck in their first couple years in the league has paved the way for teams to just expect a highly drafted QB to come into their team and start right away. This expectation, while not always fair, gives the teams a tremendous advantage in the salary cap and allows them to spend more money on other positions while their QBs are still getting paid as rookies.
Take this year’s Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks for example, because Russell Wilson was only being paid around $600,000, they were able to spend more money on free agent pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett who helped them throughout the season tremendously. When these QBs get to their second contract in the NFL they will inevitably be getting paid far more giving the teams less flexibility money wise to spend at others positions. Because of this teams who are in need of a quarterback come draft time are willing to do whatever it takes to get who they think can come in right away and start.
One of the quarterbacks expected to be selected high in the draft this year is the polarizing figure know as Johnny Football. In his short college career, Johnny Manziel proved to be one of the most electrifying and exciting players to watch on the field while also being one of the most talked about figures in all of sports off the field. However in terms of his NFL potential it is not just the off the field issues that have scouts and experts continuing to disagree but also his play on the field.
Johnny Manziel is a tremendous talent, but his specific talents are not as suited for the NFL as some think. While in college he made tremendous plays with his feet and arm, because of his athleticism and ability to be elusive to pass rushers he was able to extend plays and find receivers down the field. A lot of experts seem to think that he will not have that same ability in the NFL for the simple reason that everyone in the NFL is athletic and even the big defensive lineman will be able to run him down more easily.
He is also on the smaller side for an NFL QB; his height is a slight concern but given the recent success of Russell Wilson and Drew Brees it seems like teams are more willing to overlook that. But what those two shorter QBs have that he does not yet is bulk; while being an inch shorter than Manziel, Wilson has 20 pounds on him. Experts think he will simply not be strong enough to handle getting hit repeatedly by NFL size defensive players.
Different concerns will be brought to life about Johnny Manziel by scouts and experts as the NFL draft draws closer, both on the field and off. Ultimately it will be decided by Manziel what his NFL career will look like, not where he is drafted or how tall he is or his 40 time. Until draft night Johnny Manziel will continue to cause disagreement among the scouts and experts who make their living evaluating talent in the NFL.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius