Johnny Manziel will do today what he did not do at the NFL scouting combine or at Texas A&M’s Pro Day earlier this month: He’ll show scouts and coaches just what he can do as a quarterback.
Before a crowd that is expected to include former president George H.W. Bush and Gov. Rick Perry, Manziel will pass and attempt to show that his improvisational style, which brought him a Heisman Trophy in 2012, will convert nicely to the NFL.
With daylong ESPN coverage, Manziel is expected to throw about 60 passes on the Texas A&M campus, but the scrutiny won’t end there.
“I want to talk to the custodian. I want to talk to his teammates,” Coach Mike Zimmer, whose Minnesota Vikings have the eighth pick in the draft, told USA Today. “I want to talk to his landlord. I want to find out those things. We’ll know what kind of football player he is by the end of the day and how he does with all that other stuff, but it’s all the other intangible things.”
With Manziel, who was suspended for a smidgen of a game because of issues with autographs, those intangibles can add up.
“We research them all the same, but that’s something that’s been well publicized,” Cleveland Browns Coach Mike Pettine said. “Some guys’ folders are a little bit thicker than others, but I don’t think there is anything that is alarming there.”
The Houston Texans have the top pick and Bill O’Brien, the team’s new coach, isn’t saying which player the team will take with the No. 1 pick. Manziel, who was measured at just under 6 feet tall at the combine, isn’t a prototypical pocket passer — which is generally the way to stay healthy in the NFL.
“With a guy like Johnny, you can’t box him into a certain way of playing,” O’Brien told the Houston Chronicle. “He’s been successful since he was probably 4 or 5 years old playing the way he plays. We have a system that’s very adaptable to many different types of quarterbacks. We have move-the-pocket type plays. We have drop-back plays. We have option plays.
“Nobody has ever seen them because we haven’t had those types of quarterbacks. We did when we coached in college. You can’t force a guy to be something that he isn’t.”
Manziel isn’t the first college quarterback who has to adjust to the NFL and know when to give up a play by sliding.
“That player, whoever it is — Johnny or whoever – they have to learn how to play when they get out of the pocket,” O’Brien said. “There’s a technique to sliding. There’s a phrase: You have to know when the journey’s over. The journey’s over if you think you’re going to keep struggling for yards in this league like you did against Montana State [then], you’ve got another thing coming. These guys are going to wail on you.”
Johnny Manziel will be throwing today in shoulder pads and a helmet, which is a departure from the norm for quarterbacks at pro days.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 27, 2014
Just asked Manziel why the pads and helmet at pro day: ″Isn’t the game played with them on?”— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 27, 2014
There’s the Bush contingent … pic.twitter.com/Rb0wIcSLPN— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 27, 2014
First Lady Barbara Bush brought a dog to Manziel’s Pro Day. pic.twitter.com/B3Lhg3Ro8V— Drew Dougherty (@DoughertyDrew) March 27, 2014