Oakland Raiders Johnny Manziel
No figure was more polarizing in sports the past year than Johnny Manziel. The quarterback from Texas A&M not only amazed people with his circus style play on the field, but also his party antics off it.
Illegal autographs, University of Texas frat parties, leaving the Manning Passing Academy, and making vague tweets about leaving College Station; Manziel made headlines about more than just his Houdini acts.
Looking at Manziel from a strict football standpoint, Manziel boggles the mind. He measured 5’11 at the combine, but also ran a 4.68 40-yard dash. He did not throw at the combine, so he will need his Pro Day to showcase his arm strength. Arm strength and height are two of his main weaknesses, according to scouts.
Manziel’s arm always had good velocity and touch, especially on intermediate throws. While he may not be the most consistent quarterback, he has a serious penchant for big plays. And where he wins is with the big play.
Manziel’s feet got him all the fame. Everybody has seen his electric runs, but his quick feet also allowed him to extend the play, scrambling away from pressure while keeping his eyes downfield. On scrambles and designed runs, he has incredible open field vision and agility to evade tackles in space, as well as a competitive spirit to fight for yards despite a small frame.
One aspect he will need to improve in the NFL is footwork. While most quarterbacks come into the NFL with bad footwork, Manziel’s is awful to see. While he does have the ability to move around well in the pocket, the footwork of his throw is what draws concern. Manziel uses almost exclusively his upper body in every throw, which explains a lot about his lack of deep throw strength. and occasional erratic passes.
Its an easily coachable trait in the NFL. If Manziel were to be drafted at the fifth pick by Oakland, he would get a good coaching staff to do so. Oakland managed to take Terrelle Pryor and turn him from a raw developmental project into a serviceable starter. Manziel is already light years ahead of Pryor and could slide right into Oakland.
Another negative from Manziels’ time at A&M was how he throws to whom. For the past two years, he made many big plays, some out of nowhere, when he threw it to 6’5 Mike Evans. Manziels propensity to throw jump balls when scrambling to Evans was highlight reel material in college, but plays like this in college will be picked off.
Now it wasn’t caught by Evans, but Evans was in the same spot. With other receivers, Manziel doesn’t make too many difficult throws that can be contested. He is the style of quarterback that will trust one receiver and feed him the ball. Depending on who his receiver in the NFL is, that may or may not work.
If he were on the Raiders, Manziel would currently have Rod Streater, Denarious Moore, or Andre Holmes for that. If his love of big recievers continues, Holmes would be his target. Holmes is 6’4 and came on strong at the end of 2013, catching 25 passes over the final seven games. He was especially good at catching jump balls all over the field, which would help Manziel.
The main issue of the Raiders drafting Manziel obviously would be his persona. Granted it would bring a spotlight to a team that only gets mentions on Sportscenter when they lose. But could Johnny Football be contained by a young Oakland Raiders organization? The Bay Area certainly has enough to offer in entertainment for him, but could he avoid staying out of trouble?
Oakland has a history of bad characters. Its what made them fearsome, bad reputation team in the 70s and 80s. But lately, its mostly been DUIs and a few possession charges outside of Rolando McClain’s spiral into insanity. But getting into bar fights in Oakland/ San Francisco vs College Station is a different story. The NFL will directly intervene if Johnny gets into trouble, and his celebrity status won’t save him.
But honestly, the Raiders need Johnny Football. He is a fierce competitor, and plays to win. His passion is something that is needed in Oakland. Manziel could have a Cam Newton-like affect for the Raiders. Newton came to Carolina and immediately turned around their offense, putting up monster numbers and bringing hope back to a dumpster fire franchise. Manziel can do that. There are enough pieces on the offense to help Manziel put up big offensive stats.
While he may have many questions about his personality, height, and arm strength; there is no question that Johnny Manziel is an electric playmaker. And anybody who can play a game like this against the vaunted Alabama defense is worth taking a chance on.
Letting Johnny Football loose in the Black Hole is just a mixture that is well worth the risk.