Fran Tarkenton is the most recent former quarterback to try and figure out what category to put NFL draft prospect Johnny Manziel in. And according to Fran Tarkenton, Manziel can either be a quarterback savant or a rodent. In a recent conversation with USA Today, Tarkenton spoke candidly about his opinion of Manziel.
“The things that went on last year with him leaving the Manning camp and other activities, I just want to understand that a little better. Everything I’ve seen of the kid, I love… But you’ve got to make sure. Because there’s never been a great quarterback I know of who was a rodent.”
Fran Tarkenton appears to have the same concerns about Manziel that most analysts do. For his play on the field, Johnny Manziel has been getting comparisons to Brett Favre, RG III, and now Fran Tarkenton even says the pint sized quarterback reminds him of himself. But it is the off field actions and character of the former Texas A&M quarterback that have NFL draft predictions all over the place. Barry Switzer referred to Manziel as arrogant and Ron Jaworski does not believe he should be taken before the third round.
But Fran Tarkenton is not too afraid of Manziel’s character. Tarkenton believes the 5’11” quarterback can make an immediate impact in the NFL. Tarkenton was one of the greatest scrambling quarterbacks of all time, known for his ability to make something happen. A number three draft pick himself, Fran Tarkenton played for the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants. When he retired in 1978, he owned all of the most important passing records (which he has now been surpassed in). At six foot tall himself, Tarkenton has an affinity for smaller quarterbacks.
“Nobody really played like I played. This kid plays like I did more than anybody else,” Tarkenton, now 74, said in his interview. “He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to myself. Russell Wilson has some of it. But Manziel has those similarities even more so than Russell. Manziel is a quarterback savant.”
What Fran Tarkenton also does not know about Johnny Manziel is where he will begin his NFL career. Early predictions have him potentially going anywhere from number one to the Houston Texans to slipping out of the first round. While most believe it is likely that the speedy, Nike endorsed quarterback will go in the top five, Manziel’s character does pose reservations. There have been too many quarterbacks that have failed in the NFL because they could not handle the pressure. Outside of St. Louis, each of the top five teams are in desperate need of a quarterback now. But with Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater on the table, do they role the dice on a potential “rodent”.
Fran Tarkenton doesn’t know about the character of Johnny Manziel, but on the field he thinks he may be one of the best.
[Image via USA Today]