We still have a little more than 2 weeks left in the 2013-14 NFL season, but it is never too early to talk about the 2014 NFL Draft. The big draft news this week was when ESPN’s NFL draftnik Mel Kiper Jr. had former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel going #1 overall to the Texans in his mock draft. This was the first time anyone had him going that high, and people began debating the validity of the idea. The one thing that many scouts and pundits point to as a fear NFL teams have about is how Manziel handles himself off-the-field. This should be the least of their concerns.
Ever since Johnny Football burst on the scene with is play during his freshman year at Texas A&M, questions have persisted about his maturity. The only legit gripe people could point to is the arrest he had during the summer before that season. Manziel was arrested in June of 2012 for disorderly conduct, failure to identify, and possession of a fictitious driver’s license. Bottom-line, Manziel was a drunk 19-year-old with a fake driver’s license and got caught. I am not excusing the arrest, it was stupid, but the incident was the beginning of some terrible trend that some try to make it out to be.
Yes, Manziel continued to party. Why wouldn’t he? He’s a college kid. It certainly wasn’t impacting his play. Did it look bad? I guess there is an argument to be made about that in terms of drawing unnecessary attention. Yes, he reportedly was out drinking all night and was kicked out of the Manning Passing Camp, but we aren’t talking about him missing practice or showing up late to a game. Was it disrespectful? Sure, but let’s not bury the kid for it. He does need to mature a little, and not act so spoiled.
Here is where critics really try to nab Manziel; his partying kept him from working out with his teammates. Manziel was present for all required team workouts. While he wasn’t running passing drills every night with his wide receivers, he certainly was busy preparing himself for the season. He came ready to play in 2013, and looked just as good as the 2012 version of Johnny Football, but this time he didn’t take anyone by surprise. He was among the best players in college football, and might have even repeated as Heisman Trophy winner, had his defense been able to stop someone. While the award is supposed to be about an individual’s performance, it helps to have a team that wins a lot of games. Partying on Spring Break, signing memorabilia, and cashing in at a casino didn’t hurt Manziel.
I know, but these things will magnify when he doesn’t have the shackles of the NCAA. While Manziel will certainly have millions of dollars to his name, the NFL police are probably more of a concern than anyone in college. The NCAA, for all its faults, isn’t as draconian as the NFL. Regardless, neither are a deterrent to Manziel. He isn’t going to stop having fun. He isn’t doing anything wrong, and teams shouldn’t be scared off.
The only real issues teams should have is about Manziel’s size and his ability to go through his progressions. While is play-making ability is obviously a huge plus, he does need to prove that he can do some of the big boy things. I think he can. That kid can toss the pigskin, and his on field play needs to be the focus, and not what he does off it. There are several teams in need of QB, and Manziel is more than ready to fill that void.