Manziel’s Magic: Why Johnny Football will be Johnny the Great

Johnny Manziel

Courtesy of The Huffington Post

30 players will attend Thursday night’s NFL Draft. Some of them will wait and wait, anticipating, hoping and praying to be selected in the first round.

Some of them won’t be.

Johnny Manziel will be one of the 30 players in attendance. And he will be selected in the first round. If the Texans are smart, they would take him first overall. Make no mistake about it, this is a decision that will not be easy, but name one NFL team to win a Super Bowl in the last ten years without a franchise quarterback?

I hear silence.

Johnny Football – The “it” factor

When it comes to discussions of Johnny Manziel, the first words out of the mouth of scouts around the league is that Manziel is “exciting.” The way he plays the game, the way he carries himself off the field; it all comes with a swagger. It also comes with a high level of expectation of himself, a confidence that not all quarterbacks enter the league with.

Manziel plays the “backyard football” style that is definitely thrilling to watch as a fan, and with him being a home-grown Texas product, Houston should not pass on him. As recently as two days before the draft, Johnny himself warned of teams skipping over him on Thursday night. Even with Manziel’s warning, the chance to snag Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick is tempting, and so is the possibility of trading down. However, the Texans just hired an offensive-minded Bill O’Brien (and a former quarterback coach for Tom Brady) and who would work better in his system than Johnny Manziel?

This is certainly one of the deepest drafts in years, and there are several players on the top of scouts’ draft boards that could be Pro Bowlers within the next couple of seasons. But, no one in the NFL wins without a franchise caliber quarterback, and Johnny Manziel’s rare competitiveness and talent could make him the NFL’s next superstar.

Another benefit for Manziel is the continuing trend of spread offenses at the NFL level. For years, we only witnessed the spread on Saturday. Now, teams are running this offensive-scheme frequently on Sundays. Again, does anyone fit this trend better than Johnny Football? Manziel has the unusual ability to be a playmaker by scrambling outside the pocket and keeping his eyes down the field. With rare lateral quickness and outstanding footwork on the move, Johnny Football has proven he has the potential to convert on third-down and in the red zone – two necessary aspects to being a great NFL quarterback.

The Best Fit – Cleveland Browns

Any debate over Johnny Manziel at the next level almost always involves this starting question: What system will he be in? Outside of the other issues (staying healthy, size, personality), most coaches, scouts and analysts want to know what system he will be playing in.

It makes sense that the Cleveland Browns would be best for Johnny Manziel. He has the opportunity in Cleveland to be a superstar. They haven’t had a good quarterback in nearly 20 years. With a dedicated fan base, and an all new coaching staff, the Browns have an opportunity to be one of this year’s big surprise teams. It all starts with drafting Johnny Football.

Kyle Shanahan is Cleveland’s new offensive coordinator. Some are questioning his system after failing to produce a winner last season in Washington. However, before struggling with injuries, the Shanahan + RG3 combo had defensive coordinators and their staff up late at night, trying to figure out how to slow him down. Can he have the same success with the dynamic, charismatic, eccentric Johnny Football? I think so. Manziel and RG3 draw many parallels, and I believe Johnny Football would fit best in Cleveland’s system. If there is any tandem and situation where Manziel would have the greatest opportunity to flourish, it would be in the sixth city under Shanahan’s command.

The Question Marks – Valid Concerns?

Johnny Football certainly comes with question marks. What draft prospect doesn’t? In an era of sports talk-radio and the Internet, sensationalized sports coverage is rampant. Regarding Manziel, I have heard it all. Is he too young? He did have two years of college eligibility left. Is he too small? He measured out to be just 6’0”, most NFL starters are well over 6’0”. Will he be able to handle the rigors of a 16-game season with an unorthodox style of play? This is arguably the most important question. We have seen the struggles of Robert Griffin III to stay healthy. Again, Manziel carries similar traits; he’s lean and loves to scramble outside of the pocket. With the speed, size and overall athleticism of defensive ends, linebackers and safeties in the NFL, Johnny Football may need to play more cautiously at the next level. Durability has to be the number one concern for a team’s quarterback, because an NFL team will not be successful having to play their second string QB often.

Off the field, Manziel has swirling questions in regards to his attitude and personality. Will he get along with teammates? Will he be the first person in the building each day, and the last person to leave? We hear this with other great quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. It seems to me that Johnny Football’s competitive drive to be great, and the constant questions surrounding his dedication will force him to be as devoted as possible.

I could be wrong, maybe he is an airhead. Maybe he does feel a sense of an entitlement, and when he gets to the NFL, he will be more concerned with where the next party is than what coverage the Seattle Seahawks run on 3rd and short. Maybe durability will be an issue, with NFL defensive players ready to take off his head. Maybe he is too small, and his unorthodox style won’t work.

But, if I am an NFL scout and pass on Johnny Manziel, I may look like a damn fool.

About Tyler Michels

Tyler is an NC State alum living in Raleigh, NC. Growing up in Northwest New Jersey, Tyler developed a love for New York sports teams, driving his desire to become a writer. In his free time, Tyler can probably be found on a golf course.

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