Johnny Football, Part 1

Johnny Manziel is headed to the NFL. We knew this was going to happen. For some reason he was hesitant to announce this for about a week, but it was inevitable

Johnny Football has proven he can be a great college player. He won the Heisman Trophy as a Freshman and you can argue that he should have won it this year. There wasn’t anything more to prove in college and his lifestyle didn’t mesh well with NCAA rules. It was time to go.

There is no question that Johnny is an amazing talent. He’s done things on the field that make our jaw hit the floor. He is one of the most dynamic college players I’ve ever seen. How will that translate to the NFL? This is a really tough question.

NFL QBs must be pocket passers first and foremost. Making plays and improvising are added abilities, not the foundation of your game. Manziel has the potential to be a pocket passer. Does he have the discipline?

In the NFL coaches want players to play how they practice. They don’t mind some creativity from time to time, but coaches prefer guys they can control. Coaches want to know how a player will play. They don’t want to hope that Good Johnny showed up today. You can’t gameplan around that. Plays must be executed the same way over and over. They must be practiced and perfected. That’s how you win games.

Coaches will want Manziel’s physical potential and his playmaking ability. The coaches will all be convinced that “I’m the guy who can control him”. If a coach can do that, Manziel can be a special player. He can be a QB you build your team around. If Manziel and the coach don’t see eye to eye, that’s when you’ve got trouble.

No one has questioned the fact that Manziel works hard and plays hard. But the NFL is a whole other level. You can’t be out partying and then get to work at 6am and be ready to go. The NFL is hard work from April to January. When you do get time off, the great players work on their own. They know how hard it is to be great.

A team that spends a Top 10 pick on Manziel will want to know that he understands all of this and is ready to focus on football. I just don’t know if that’s the case.

I’m not making a moral judgment on Manziel. I got drunk plenty of times in my early 20’s and did some very crazy stuff. However, I wasn’t paid millions of dollars to do a job and I wasn’t the face of a billion dollar organization.

If I were a coach/GM, I’d be scared to death of Manziel. If you take him, will he stay focused on football and do all the work that’s needed? If you pass on him, will he make you regret that by becoming an elite QB?

This is a guy you will study to death on an off the field. There is no question about his arm strength, accuracy, mobility, leadership and other-on-the-field skills. Can you get him to function within the offense? That’s your primary playing concern. Off the field, I’ve got a ton of questions.

I only take Manziel if I’m fully committed to him. Don’t take this guy and shove him into a conservative offense. You’ve got to be willing to spread the field and do the stuff he likes. You’ve got to have the right coaches to work with him (OC, QB coach). Don’t get old school hardliners. Get someone that is open and willing to deal with Manziel.

I also don’t know about drafting him and having him sit. Manziel with lots of money and being a backup sounds like a bad formula. I want him playing early on. Manziel is incredibly competitive and I think getting him on the field is the best way to control him off of it.

I’ve heard more than a few comparisons to Russell Wilson. That is utter nonsense. Wilson was incredibly mature in college. He came across more like a Senator than a draft prospect. He played in the WCO for 3 years at NC State and then spent a year in Wisconsin’s power run game. Wilson led the nation in passing efficiency as a Senior.

Manziel led the SEC in rushing n 2012. He threw the ball better this season and dialed back the running. But he still improvised a lot. And he benefited a great deal from throwing the ball to Mike Evans. I would guess the majority of his big plays came due to his running or throwing the ball to Evans and then having Evans make most of the play on his own.

Give Manziel the right weapons and put him in the right system and he can be a star QB in the NFL. Try to force Manziel to play in Norv Turner’s system and I think you’re asking for trouble.

I hope wherever he goes, Manziel pans out. Football is a lot more fun when he’s good.

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