Remember back to the Summer of 2013 when Manziel was scrutinized for everything he did. He was in the public eye too much, he partied too much, he was an attention hogger, he was a distraction, he couldn’t make throws from the pocket, he was erratic, he had character issues.
How could someone under that much scrutiny become a top prospect in the NFL Draft? Because Manziel has cleaned up his act tremendously.
Manziel has shied away from media contact in the past months. He’s shown that football is his first priority, and most importantly, he’s shown that he has a true passion for the game that can be translated into work ethic.
There are still issues to be handled though. Manziel needs to show definite improvement as a pocket passer. He is defined as a “crazy” player, and he loves to scramble to make time, leading scouts to question his ability to stand in the pocket and throw like a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning.
His improvisational ability is phenomenal, but its cost is also enormous. Manziel certainly won’t be able to scramble as much as he did in college (345 rushing attempts) in the NFL and expect to play all 16 games at the same time. Durability concerns are certainly a concern for teams interested in the young star, which makes it all the more important that he become a consistent pocket passer.
At his Pro Day, Manziel showed much improvement in his arm strength, throwing capabilities, and overall pocket presence. He worked out at his pro day in a helmet and shoulder pads, unusual for a player who wants to get the most out of his performance. Manziel hit deep throws with incredible touch and accuracy and showed that his arm strength wasn’t an issue; he could make every throw on the field. He also threw over tall 6’6″ cones that resembled the tallest offensive linemen to show that his 5’11” height isn’t a problem.
It’s obvious that Manziel has been working hard on his mechanics, his pocket presence, and his public image as of late. He’s improved his game tremendously, but we just have to see if it translates to the field at the pro level.
Bottom line: Johnny Manziel’s Draft stock has risen drastically in the past months. He went from being a questionable first-rounder to an almost-definite top ten pick. He has several flaws (moving through progressions, his height), but they can all be taken care of. If Manziel goes to the right system that can fit and take advantage of his skills, he will thrive in the NFL.