Let's be real: Johnny Manziel isn't ready for the NFL
Manziel—who wasn’t even named the starter until mid-August of last year—quietly entered the discussion through the first six games of 2012, obliterating opposing defenses and nearly beating then-No. 24 Florida.
However, it was when Texas A&M took down No. 1 Alabama that Manziel became a celebrity. He then took the Heisman Trophy by a landslide and had probably the most famed offseason in offseason history.
Behind an excellent offensive line, strong core of receivers and NFL-caliber backfield, Manziel was able to compile an astonishing 5,115 total yards and 47 touchdowns.
Those numbers are great—but what do they mean? Not a whole lot.
Manziel only faced four defenses that ranked within the Top 50 last season, albeit three of them finished inside the Top 10.
Against those teams (Alabama, 1; Florida, 5; LSU, 8; Ole Miss, 46), he completed 93-of-143 (65.0 percent) of his passes for 893 yards (223.3 yards per game), three touchdowns and five interceptions.
That’s a 117.4 passer rating, which would have been good for 94th in the NCAA behind BYU’s Riley Nelson and Connecticut’s Chandler Whitmer.
Since we’re talking about the NFL—and these defenses were the closest thing to next-level football—his quarterback rating would have been 74.7 in this situation, finishing him at No. 28 overall right in front of the Titans’ Jake Locker and the Browns’ Brandon Weeden.
There’s no doubting that Manziel is playmaker. What he did to Alabama is proof that he has what it takes to play on Sundays at some point in his career (although he did get lucky here). He knows how to get out of the pocket and use his feet, which is being utilized more and more in the NFL nowadays.
But then you have to take a look at what he did against teams like Florida and LSU, which had a combined 13 defensive players taken in the 2013 NFL Draft. He struggled to find consistency and failed to read the many different blitz packages and coverages thrown at him.
There’s talk that Manziel will enter the draft next April. At this point in time, he would likely be a third-round selection for his sheer athleticism alone and raw upside as a playmaker under a shotgun-themed offense.
Think about it: He would have to battle for position with Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, David Fales and Zach Mettenberger—all who are much more developed players and already have the distinguished tools for success in the NFL.
Manziel needs another year or two under Kevin Sumlin—one of the best quarterback coaches out there—to gain experience, add some build (he's only 6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and continue feeling out SEC defenses to improve his draft stock.
Because as of right now, he’s just another kid that will bring a ton of unwanted media attention with a decent arm and some mobility. Sound familiar?
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