Chris Stephens

Johnny Manziel Has A Lot To Learn, Work On

Created on Jan. 30, 2014 8:59 PM EST

Johnny Manziel has been the most exciting player in college football with his ability to extend plays and find open receivers.

Now, Manziel is moving on to the NFL where several teams at the top of the first round of the draft will be clamoring for his services. 

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has even predicted that Manziel will go No. 1 to the Houston Texans in his first mock draft (subscription required). However, I'm not so sure that Manziel will be the top guy. In fact, there are a lot of flaws in his game that seem to go unnoticed because of all of his heroics. Not only that, but while the read-option look has had some success in the NFL, pocket passers are still the ones having the most success.

Manziel's off-field issues could also throw a monkey wrench into everything.

I'm not the only one skeptical of Manziel's NFL prospects -- NFL Draft Senior Editor David Seigerman has written on Manziel extensively and says he's not worthy of a Top 10 pick.

Let's look at each of these issues further.

The Flaws

It's hard not to get caught up in a Manziel highlight tape. He makes a lot of plays that are simply unfathomable.

In reviewing his highlight tape from the Alabama-Texas A&M game this past season, I noticed a few of his flaws.

The most obvious thing is that when Manziel tucked the ball and ran, he really did not tuck it away. He has a tendency to run with the ball in one hand and not have it secured. In the NFL, that would result in the ball getting stripped from his grasp more times than not.

The second thing is that Manziel's passes rarely have a tight spiral. When there's even a bit of wobble in his throws, that's taking some of the velocity off the ball and could disrupt timing routes with his receivers.

Manziel also has a tendency to throw off his back foot when he's under duress, causing the ball to get a little more air than needed. When you loft the ball like that, NFL secondaries will take advantage and pick off those opportunities. Add the fact that Manziel is 20 to 25 yards behind the line of scrimmage when he is under pressure, and Manziel is going to have to learn to take a sack in order to live to fight another down.

Obviously, all of those things can be fixed with the proper quarterback coach. 

There's no doubt that Manziel has a huge upside and is worth the risk, but the former Texas A&M quarterback isn't nearly as ready for the NFL as most may think.

Pocket Passers Are Still Dominant

Over the last few years, we've seen the emergence of Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton in running the read-option in the NFL, but it's a system that NFL defenses are figuring out. Plus, when it comes to Super Bowl starting quarterbacks, pocket passers still reign supreme.

Kaepernick (2013) and Donovan McNabb (2005) are the only true mobile quarterbacks who have led their teams to Super Bowls.

Looking at the stats shows that pocket passers such as Peyton Manning are at the top of every category — throwing for more yards and with higher passer ratings and higher total quarterback ratings.

Injuries are another concern for a mobile quarterback. Just look at the number of times that Michael Vick has been injured, or even Robert Griffin III. The potential for Manziel to get injured and miss games is out there as well.

Kaepernick has been lucky thus far, unlike most other mobile quarterbacks in the league. Being mobile isn't a bad thing, but there is a reason why pocket passers have more success in the NFL — they stay out of harm's way.

Off The Field

Many people will say it's unfair to throw someone's past indiscretions at them, but Manziel does have a tendency to be a party boy.

In a city like Houston, Kansas City or Jacksonville, Manziel will have many opportunities to go out and enjoy the nightlife. As we've seen, Manziel is not one to turn down a party invitation.

For instance, he was kicked out of the Manning Passing Academy last year because he either had been out partying late the night before or simply overslept. Starting quarterbacks in the NFL can't have either of those things happen. They have to be the first players in the building and the last ones out. Is Manziel that committed?


There's no doubt that Manziel could be a great quarterback in the NFL, but he has some things that he has to work on and adapt to before that happens.

For starters, he can't think his legs will get him out of everything. Defensive linemen and linebackers are much faster in the NFL than they are in the college game. They will exploit him if he thinks he can be successful in the pros by doing the same things he did in college.

Johnny Football was great in the SEC, but the NFL will present him with new challenges. Only time will tell if he will overcome those challenges to remain one of the star attractions of the game.

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