Is Johnny Manziel a turbo-charged version of Russell Wilson ready to light the league on fire?
Or is he Tim Tebow, without the “amen chorus” behind him?
We’re gonna find out.
The juicy thing about the NFL draft – and sports, in broader terms – is that we still haven’t cracked the code on what indicators exist as to how to identify players who will or will not succeed as professionals.
In short: “the bust” still exists. And we still can’t accurately predict it.
Despite all of the silly drills, and times, and measurements the NFL establishment dutifully measures and records at the marketing convention willfully mis-named as the “scouting combine” there remains an opaque window into an athlete’s DNA.
Will Manziel bear down as a pro, put in the work, understand his limitations, discover a new page of leadership skills and thrive?
Or is every bit the Johnny College Douchebag many people conclude he is?
We’re gonna find out.
And finding out will be potentially expensive and embarrassing for the team that drafts him. Will he be an undersized gem that wins games, sells tickets, and lights up defenses? Or a punch line like Jamarcus Russell?
My personal feeling on Manziel is that he’s gonna be good. Maybe, really good. Yes, a sort of Wilson+ player, who is frustratingly impossible to catch while running around in the backfield.
I don’t think he’ll be as much a downfield runner as Wilson or RG3. I think he’s basically the next incarnation of Fran Tarkenton.
I also think he’s a guy does love playing football. I mean, loves it. Sure, he loves the trappings, and the lifestyle, but the way he plays tells me: this is what he lives for!
Now don’t know jack shit about his “read progressions” or ability to stay calm in a “muddied pocket” or any of that stuff. Even the experts will disagree. Already, Ron Jawarski has stepped out and said he doesn’t think he’s even a 3rd round pick.
Of course, Jaws has now become one of ESPN’s most reliable “Say-Bot’s.” A guy who just “says things”, and then gets high fives from Bristol management for stirring the pot. Remember last August’s “Colin Kaepernick might go down as the greatest QB of all time” rant?
If there was a reliable test (and don’t even start with the laughably over-hyped Wonderlic) that could tell if a guy would become Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning, they would have invented it right now.
You can ASK all the questions you want to Matt Leinart about his commitment to the game at the combine, but you don’t KNOW if he’s just bullshitting you. (Note: When the beer bong pictures with young co-eds come out, you’ll have your answer).
Besides, money and fame changes people. Sometimes all it takes is one year of it. Some will argue vehemently that RG3’s monster rookie season, turned him into – in many ways – just that: a monster. I don’t quite personally subscribe to that theory (call me an RG3 apologist if you like) but I can see the possible dynamic at play.
But if I’m the Texans, and it’s between Manziel and Clowney (a guy with a roughly equal number of red flags) I roll the dice with Johnny Football and don’t look back.
What’s the worst that can happen?
He’s David Carr all over again?
Ooops. Never mind. Bad reference.
Look, it’s just ONE #1 pick you are giving up for him. Not 3 #’s and a #2 like the Redskins gave up for Griffin.
Assuming he doesn’t hold up a liquor store at gunpoint between now and the May draft, I think Manziel will look sharp in the Texans “Battle Reds.”