2014 NFL Combine: 5 takeaways from the Johnny Manziel experience
Breaking down Johnny Manziel's Friday at the Combine, from what his sub-6-foot frame and disproportionately large hands really mean to his NFL projection to which NFL teams have already expressed great interest in drafting the dynamic dual-threat quarterback.
Showing the same unique combination of poise and panache which helped him win the 2012 Heisman Trophy, Johnny Manziel addressed the assembled media at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, answering questions about his size, his interest in continuing his playing career in the state of Texas and the decision not to throw in Indianapolis.
If the pressure of the moment and distraction of flashing smart phone cameras bothered him, Manziel didn't show it, calmly answering questions and ignoring when a PA announcement that Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien's session with the media was starting momentarily just across the room.
While Manziel will be waiting until a personal Pro Day workout on March 27 to throw, he did confirm his plans to participate in all of the other athletic drills on Sunday -- something that could help the most polarizing player in the draft class win over some of his critics.
The following are 5 takeaways from Manziel's weigh-in and interview session on Day 2 of the Combine.
5. Manziel measured in just short of 6-foot, officially coming in at 5-foot-11, 3/4 and 209 pounds. While his height isn't ideal, it wasn't a surprise to scouts and isn't likely to impact his draft status, especially given the success of other short quarterbacks like Drew Brees (6-0 1/4, 213) and Russell Wilson (5-foot-10 5/8, 204). Manziel dismissed his height as just a number.
"I feel like I play like I'm 10-feet tall," Manziel said. "A measurement to me is just a number."
4. While his height is a number that causes some concern, another measurement that will actually work in Manziel's favor is the fact that he possesses disproportionally large hands (9 7/8"). Manziel's hands, in fact, were the largest of any quarterback attending the 2014 Combine, including the 6-foot-5, 232-pound Blake Bortles (9 3/8"), an increasingly popular projection to be the Texans' pick at No. 1. Manziel's large hands help him protect the football, which is obviously critical to his duplicating his success at the collegiate level once in the NFL.
3. Manziel characterized himself as "probably one of the most competitive people on the face of this Earth" and therefore his unwillingness to throw at the Combine has been questioned by many, including myself.
"[It was an] extremely hard decision for me not to throw here, I'm an extremely competitive person," Manziel said. "It's something that my agent [Erik Burkhardt] really kind of advised me on, but at the same time telling these teams anything they want to see, anything they want to hear from me, [I'm] more than willing."
Manziel cited the fact that he'll have former Aggies teammate Mike Evans and other receivers that he knows well as a reason why he's waiting until his Pro Day to throw. "I want to give those guys an opportunity to go and show what they can showcase as well," he said.
2. Manziel addressed the perception that he's a party-goer with a bigger-than-life Johnny Football personality. He mentioned the fact that he comes from Kerrville, Texas a "small town" of 20,000 people and that he felt he's matured throughout his time at College Station. He refuted a report that he'd spent time with alcohol and anger management counselors but did say that Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin asked him to meet with an "in-house guy." Needless to say, this is a relationship NFL teams will want to investigate further.
1. Manziel, like every other player at the Combine, was not informed of the identities of the individual teams that wish to interview him in Indianapolis. Players are given a time and room numbers -- not team names -- to maintain the secrecy of this process. Given his talents, questions and the value of the quarterback position, however, expect Manziel to be among the most popular interviews for NFL teams this year.
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Manziel is scheduled to meet with the Texans. Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said that his club will also be interviewing Manziel, along with Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida's Blake Bortles, the two other quarterbacks consider. Other teams reportedly interviewing Manziel this week include the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.
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