The Washington Post

Ben Roethlisberger skeptical about Johnny Manziel’s NFL future

 Johnny Manziel stretched during the seventh inning of a game recently in Arlington, Texas. (LM Otero / AP)

Everyone — but everyone — has an opinion on Johnny Manziel and his prospects in the NFL draft Thursday and, beyond that, in the league. But one day before the first round, no one is certain just when he will be drafted.

One veteran quarterback, who was taken 11th overall in the 2004 draft, wonders whether size will be a problem for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M.

“He’ll come into this league, and he’ll probably be a star early because he’ll use his athleticism,” Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers said (via Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports that Manziel won’t be drafted by the Cleveland Browns, who have the No. 4 pick.

“ESPN has reported all night that the Cleveland Browns are taking Johnny Manziel, and I am here to tell you they are not,” Glazer told Fox Sports Radio. “NFL Network, I know they had come out and said, ‘Well, [owner] Jimmy Haslam has told everybody in the room that he wants it to happen, that is not happening. In fact, it’s the other way. Jimmy Haslam has walked into the Browns’ draft room and said, ‘Hey guys, this is not what I do for a living, it’s what you do for a living. Whatever you do, I trust.’ There has not been some edict like that. I have no idea where that came from, but that’s not happening.”

Heaven knows that worked for Manziel at A&M.

“We’ve seen some of the scrambling, jumping, throwing, flipping type things he can do and it makes your jaw drop because it’s special stuff. Does that translate to the NFL? I don’t know,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday on 93.7 The Fan. “The guys in the NFL are all bigger, stronger and faster.”

The Post Sports Live crew discusses the biggest storylines in the 2014 NFL draft, from whether University of South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney will be selected first overall to where Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will be drafted. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)

Roethlisberger then revealed a conversation he had with Joey Porter, a former player who is now a defensive coach.

“I was in the weight room the other day with Joey Porter, [who was] asking me what I thought about Manziel,” Roethlisberger said. “I looked at Joey and said, ‘Joey, do you think if you got a good hit on him, that he would be okay? And he said, ‘No, not at all.’ And that’s my question.

“You have guys like Joey Porter, who’s a big guy, guys that are fast like Troy [Polamalu], Ike Taylor coming off the edge, Lawrence Timmons. You’d better be real athletic, get down or be big.”

Manziel measured at just under 6 feet tall at the scouting combine and Roethlisberger, who is 6-5 and weighs 241, raised the issue of durability in a pro league in which players are so much bigger and faster than their college counterparts.

“I think he definitely has a lot of upside, but let’s wait and see,” Roethlisberger said. “The key I’ll say every year when I get asked about RGIII [Robert Griffin III], Andrew Luck, or whoever it is, Cam Newton. It’s not about your first year, it’s about years two, three and four.

“Can you sustain it when defenses, like Coach [Dick] LeBeau and the defenses he coaches, when they figure you out, can you find a way to stay a step above them?”

Fancy Stats: How far will Manziel fall?

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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