Johnny Man-NFL?

Nice pun there, don’t you think?

My time in Texas has happily coincided with the tenure of Johnny Manziel as the quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies.  His first game for the Aggies was back in early September 2012 against Florida, where he went 23/30 for 173 yards with a rushing TD in a loss before throwing for four and running in two further TDs the following week at Southern Methodist.  His signature performance was of course the famous road win in Tuscaloosa, but the Cotton Bowl demolishing of Oklahoma was also noteworthy.  Manziel was a worthy Heisman winner, the first (redshirt) freshman to win it ever.

This season he has been pretty good as well, to say the least.  He had a slow start against Rice, to be expected as he sat out the first half with perhaps the most pathetic suspension in NCAA history, but still finished with 19 yards rushing and 94 yards in the air for three touchdowns.  He then was responsible for 4, 5, 3, 2, 2, 5, 4, 6, 5, 1 and 1 TDs over the rest of the regular season schedule for the Aggies.  The first 5 TD game was against none other than two-time defending national champions, Alabama.  The second 5 TD game was against Auburn.  The third against Mississippi State.  He didn’t play so well on the road against LSU, or indeed against Missouri to probably close out his college career, which probably put paid to his Heisman prospects.

His adjusted QBR this season is a little worse – 84.5 compared to 90.5 last season.  He has more interceptions, 13 compared to 9, but he has more TDs: 33 compared to 26.  His completion percentage is up from 68% to 69.1%.  He’s accounted for 26 more yards than last season.  His passer rating is up from 155.3 to 170.4.  He’s not as reckless on the move as he was – his rushing yards have fallen from 1410 to 686 and his rushing TDs are down from 21 to 8.

Now the conventional wisdom is that Manziel’s time in College Station is up.  He was clearly unhappy with the goldfish bowl of the small town last summer when he was seen partying across the nation, notably in Austin.  He has been “forced” to take online classes by the fact that he can’t have an ordinary student lifestyle in College Station, so he’s not necessarily ever on campus except for footballing activities.  Johnny doesn’t want to be there, that much is obvious.  But maybe he really needs to be there.

I just can’t help wondering if Johnny wouldn’t be better of staying in college and playing out his four years.

He is an absolute STUD in college football.  The most electrifying talent there is.  People watch games just because Johnny Manziel is playing.  He evades tackles like a ballerina, sprints like a track star and makes throws to receivers that aren’t even close to being open.

I can’t see him doing any of the above in the NFL.  The defensive players there are too good.

People have questioned his size.  He’s listed at 6’1″ and 210lbs.  The average NFL QB is 6’3″.  Two QBs of Manziel’s size have been drafted in the first round in recent years: Mike Vick and Rex Grossman.  Drew Brees was a second round pick in 2001.  The average NFL QB weighs 224.  Of course Manziel could pack on a few pounds, but the possibility of that extra weight inhibiting his famous athleticism would perhaps limit the amount of weight any coach would like to see him add.

Denard Robinson has played in 12 NFL games.  He’s returned four kickoffs for an average of 22 yards – pretty good.  He’s rushed for an average of 1.9 yards on 15 carries, but fumbled the ball twice (losing one).  He’s thrown once and it was an incompletion.  Robinson is listed at 5’11” and 197lbs.  He was a phenomenon at Michigan, but at the NFL?  “Offensive Weapon”.  That’s his position.  Translation: he’s not quite good enough at anything to play at the NFL level

The NFL comparison that Manziel’s agent should be putting out to NFL teams is Russell Wilson.  However, Wilson played out his full college eligibility at NC State and Wisconsin.  He ended his college career with a passer rating of 191.8 and reduced his rushes by half from his last year in Raleigh to his only year in Madison – but he rushed more efficiently with his average of 4.3 yards a career high.

Does anyone seriously look at Johnny Manziel and think “he’s the next Russell Wilson”?

Wilson’s reputation is all about character, about being a student of the game, about striving for greatness.  Not to say that Manziel doesn’t have those attributes, but they are not the first things that you think of when you talk about Johnny Football.  “Johnny Football” is a registered trademark, for example.

Wright Thompson wrote a revealing article on Manziel for ESPN back in July.  His family is rich.  He drives a Mercedes.  He doesn’t want for anything, materially.  Essentially, he might lack the drive that is absolutely necessary for someone to succeed in the NFL.

Some questions have been asked about his arm strength.  I think that’s fine, actually.  He can work on it.  However, his accuracy could be a major problem.  He has had Mike Evans, perhaps the best WR in college football this year, to throw to these past two years.  Evans has that Calvin Johnson ability to grab anything that is thrown within two meters of his head.  If Manziel ends up on a team without such a receiver – and that is most teams – he’s going to have to be a lot more accurate.

Given he is small and perhaps not accurate enough for the NFL and given that he is already rich and about as famous as it is possible for a college athlete to be, I ask you: “shouldn’t Johnny Manziel just stay where he is?”

Play your four years of college ball Johnny.  Go for four Heisman awards.  I’ll be damned if you aren’t in with a shot of back-to-back Heismans.  Maybe if your defense could stop anyone, you’d already have it sewn up.  Maybe if Jameis Winston’s career – and life – go down the toilet, if these allegations against him are true, you’ll be back in with a real shot of it anyway.

The NFL will still be there for you in 2015 Johnny.  Stay.  Please?


One thought on “Johnny Man-NFL?

  1. Completely agree that he should stick around. Several guys have succeeded in college only to struggle once they get to the pros. His foot speed works in the college game but the mobile QB still has yet to find a successful place in the pro game. Accuracy and mental toughness are what provide a long career in the NFL and Johnny Football could use at least another season under his belt to prove that. He should be embracing his stardom now because it may not come as easy at the next level.

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