In a NFL draft loaded with experienced quarterbacks (including the three time national champion AJ McCarron), the best quarterback coming out of college might be the youngest quarterback in the draft: Texas A&M; standout Johnny Manziel.
In his two years at Texas A&M;, Manziel proved that he had the undeniable ability to win games. In his two season at the helm of the Aggies offense, Manziel only had one game where he lost by more than a touchdown, which speaks to his ability to keep his team in games against any team.
In the 2012-13 season alone, Manziel shattered all expectations that were placed on him during his freshman campaign, earning himself the nickname “Johnny Football” by creating the first 11-win season in College Station since the 1998 season.
Manziel won both the 2012 Davey O’Brien Award for being the best collegiate quarterback and the 2012 Heisman Trophy as the best overall player in college football in his prolific freshman season, becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to win either of those awards.
The amount of raw talent that Manziel has sets him apart from the other top quarterbacks in the draft. A reason for this is his ability to escape the pocket and create big plays. Manziel rushed for 2,169 yards during his stint with the Aggies, leading the team in both of his seasons.
Averaging 6.3 yards per attempt on the ground is enough to make life for the opposing defenses hard when preparing for running backs. However, having a quarterback who can escape the pocket and has that rushing production on the ground is something that can destroy defensive preparation.
A common misunderstanding with Manziel is that he doesn’t have the necessary arm strength or accuracy. Manziel had a career completion percentage of 68.9 percent while throwing for 7,820 yards. Manziel can throw the deep ball proficiently, and actually had an issue with overthrowing the ball.
Some of his throwing issues are magnified by the fact that he often feels pressure that doesn’t exist. This problem is prevalent because Manziel knows that he can escape the pocket whenever he needs to. So, any form of pressure can rattle and force Manziel to either tuck the ball and take off down the field or rush a bad throw to either overthrow the receiver or throw off of his back foot to throw a short pass in front of a receiver.
Another common criticism of Manziel is that he is undersized, standing at 6 feet even. While this does effect his view downfield because of the size of the linemen, it shouldn’t be a factor when looking at the talent of the quarterback. Michael Vick (6-foot), Drew Brees (6-foot), and the defending champion Russell Wilson (5 feet 11 inches) are all examples of highly successful quarterbacks who are Manziel’s size, which goes to show that talent trumps size any day.
As a college student, Manziel made some bad off the field decisions. If Manziel is put into the right atmosphere with the right mentors, all of his off-field issues can be contained and he could thrive as a top tier quarterback.
Come draft day, Manziel will be both the most talented quarterback in the draft and the player who has the biggest upside. While their will be risk in his drafting, the team who is willing to take that risk will get a once in a generation player who has enough talent to ascend to the ranks of an elite quarterback.
Emilio Rivera is a freshman in pre-journalism. Please send comments to [email protected]