The NFL has transitioned into a passing league. Quarterbacks are dependent on slinging the football, running for extra yards, or both. Johnny Manziel competes with this year’s top QBs at the NFL combine for NFL draft significance.
The combine is opportunity for prospects to showcase their physical traits. Players have the option of participating in workout drills to improve their value. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater decided to opt out, but Manziel approached the evaluation head on.
The first drill of significance to QBs is the 40-yard dash. The dash separates the bulls from the bears. The tortoise from the hare, except the hare wins and gets a multi-million dollar guaranteed contract. The 40-yard dash is particularly important to Manziel because of running abilities he showcased in college. Manziel was able to beat Big-12 opponents with a combination of speed and arm strength. Manziel is compared to Russell Wilson for relatable physical attributes. A comparable acceptance considering Wilson just won XLVIII.
Manziel clocked at unofficial 40-yard times of 4.63 and 4.56 on Sunday. The announcers reporting the dash set the bar high expecting a time of high 4.4s. Manziel failed to beat Robert Griffin III’s blazing 4.41 time, but his precedent was set. Roadrunner speed that is impossible to catch from behind is not Manziel. He relies on unpredictable scrambles that require quick cuts and enough speed to keep defenses guessing. Scouts recognized these traits while Manziel was at Texas A&M, and opinion has not wavered after the 40. 40 times for running QBs in the NFL are Colin Kaepernick at 4.53, Cam Newton at 4.58, and Wilson at 4.55. Line up those four QBs including Manziel in a race and anyone could break the tape.
Manziel’s 40-yard time earned him second fastest in this competition with other top QB prospects. The fastest time went to South Carolina’s Connor Shaw at a distinction of 4.55. Notable names following Manziel were Fresno State’s Derek Carr at 4.65, Northern Illinois Jordan Lynch at 4.72, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd at 4.75, and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles at 4.81. Bridgewater watched from the sidelines.
Additional measurements for Manziel are 5 feet 11 ¾, 207 pounds, and 9 7/8 inches hand size. The detailed distinction in height documents Manziel below the preferable 6-foot mark. Guess another QB who came up short. Wilson measured at 5 feet 10 5/8 with 10 ¼ inch hands.
“If the QB is not tall, look at his hands. That is the biggest coaching point to finding a QB,” said Chip Kelly, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, in 2011.
Kelly’s Eagles have the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft, but Manziel does not intend to drop that distance. Anticipate Manziel to be off the big board before pick 5. The NFL is a passing league, the top five single season passing yards are held by QBs between 2011 and 2013, and bottom barrel teams are searching for the next 5,000-yard bomber.
Manziel’s official time in the 40-yard dash is a 4.68. He will continue to compete with top QBs Sunday in vertical jump, bench press, and other drills. Manziel’s passing drills will be next week.
Editorial by Niles Olson