Johnny Manziel seems to evoke emotion in people, whether it be positive or negative. Many sing Manziel’s praises – outstanding mobility, elusive, can extend plays, great leader, competitor, improviser, etc. Others believe that he was a great college quaterback, but will not have the discipline to make it big in the NFL. You can count ESPN’s Merril Hoge in the camp of the non-believers. Hoge, discussing the 2014 NFL Draft on Wednesday, offered his opinions on Manziel, and he did not hold back.
“Johnny Manziel’s skill set does not transition to the NFL, and drafting him high is a big, big risk. I see bust written all over him. Especially if he’s drafted in the first round.”
To flesh out his opinion on Manziel, Hoge said that he has “absolutely no instinct or feel for pocket awareness,” and that his “instincts are to run.” Hoge deemed that to be a bad instinct to have if you wanted to be successful in the NFL. Hoge went on criticizing Manziel, stating: “You have to play in the pocket with traffic around you and throw it. When traffic comes around him (Manziel), he runs, and that’s dangerous in the National Football League.”
That is damning criticism from one of ESPN’s top NFL analysts and a former NFL running back. It is a bit surprising that Hoge would label Manziel a bust candidate, when the consensus is that Johnny Manziel is a 1st round pick and a top 3 quarterback in the 2014 draft. The other quarterbacks in position to be drafted in the first round, along with Manziel, are Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles. The conventional wisdon appears to be that 5 of the first 10 teams drafting this year are looking for a new franchise quarterback, and that Manziel will likely go to one of these teams.
However, among NFL insiders, Hoge is one of the more respected analysts. Hoge’s issue with Manziel is his propensity to leave the pocket, and the risks that brings in the NFL against bigger, stronger defenders. Hoge is critical of Manziel in areas that NFL quarterback coaches rate most highly: decision-making, accuracy and pocket awareness.
Manziel built his college career on his mobility, competitiveness, leadership and athleticism. His quarterbacking fundamentals are not as polished as other, more traditional pocket passers. However, the two quarterbacks in this past Super Bowl were more similar to Manziel than to traditional pocket passers like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are leading a new generation of athletic, unconventional quarterbacks that are proving that the old way isn’t the only way when judging whether a quarterback will be successful in the NFL.
The successes of Capernick, Michael Vick, Russell Wilson, and those similar to them will guarantee that Johnny Manziel will be drafted in the top 10, maybe even No. 1 with Houston. No general manager wants to risk missing out on the next big thing. Could that be Johnny Manziel?
[Image via DesktopBackgrounds1.com]