He’s only an NFL analyst for ESPN, breaking down football as he sees it, giving his opinion on players and coaches. Ron Jaworski, whose traditional views of the game are completely silly, isn’t buying the hype circulating around Johnny Football.
This is, of course, the viewpoint of a man who thinks Johnny Manziel isn’t worthy of a first round pick, and truly believes Houston and Jacksonville will pass him up in the first three rounds. So never mind that Manziel, projected to go in the first round of the NFL draft, is the ultimate playmaker whose scintillating amalgam of athleticism makes him a dual-threat quarterback. Never mind that he ran an impressive 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine last Sunday.
“I’m a big believer in Nick Foles, but who knows?” Jaworski said. “Manziel may fall. I’m not crazy about him, to be honest with you. I’ve only looked at five games. I wouldn’t take him in the first three rounds. That’s my opinion. It’s incomplete right now. But he has not done a whole lot to me.“
As Jaworski sees it, given his assessment during an appearance on a Philadelphia radio station Tuesday afternoon, Manziel is not an ideal fit for a team in dire need of a franchise quarterback. So obviously, Jaworski is in the minority about Manziel, so often on the periphery of his viewpoint. He couldn’t be more wrong about one of college football’s polarizing figures, with Manziel being a surefire first-rounder or even a second-rounder. It is no secret, even though the Texas A&M star is a top draft prospect, that Jaworski is no fan of a non-traditional quarterback, even though he can polish his game as a pocket passer — acknowledging that based on film study of five Texas A&M games in 2013 that Manziel is not ready for the NFL.
It’s more of an overreaction to speculate that Manziel, who is 21, is not a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and Jaworski doesn’t give Johnny Football a chance to prove he’s a franchise quarterback. He’s basically a first-rounder in the draft and a player who can likely invigorate a team’s offense and galvanize a fan base, but whoever takes him could pretty much anticipate what they were going to get from him. He was never a traditional quarterback, and his style of play is unorthodox, but he is an undeniable talent, much more like Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick when it comes to comparisons.
There’s no one more polarizing entering the draft than Manziel. So maybe Jaworski doesn’t believe he’s worth a pick in the first three rounds. And we understand totally if Jaworski isn’t a strong believer in a quarterback that doesn’t dominate the pocket. But now a team doesn’t need a quarterback who has the mechanics of a pure pocket passer. It’s not the same league it was years ago, as a team doesn’t need an elite passer to be successful in today’s NFL. The game of football, hopefully improved, has slowly evolved in which playing quarterback in the league these days is not so much about being an efficient pocket passer. It used to be about dominating the pocket, but in today’s game, playing the quarterback position non-traditionally isn’t far-fetched. At this stage, after two seasons at Texas A&M, Manziel never played in the pro-style offense. It must be tough to be Manziel. Expectations are high for his first NFL season.
A story that appears to be a 24/7 news cycle has drawn much debate enough that people are buzzing about Manziel. The noise that he was the most dynamic college quarterback in the history of the NCAA isn’t an exaggeration, but somewhat accurate about a man who was dominant at the college level, now hoping he can translate his talents to the pros. Maybe the Texans, if the organization is smart, will pick a quarterback. It makes you wonder if the Houston Texans would be foolish to pass up Manziel with the No. 1 overall pick, salivating at the idea of picking defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. It would be interesting to watch if the Texans draft Clowney this spring, and pair him with J.J. Watt to create a formidable pass-rushing duo.
The Texans, however, aren’t going to have success, until they bring in a quarterback — and no disrespect to Matt Schaub. But Manziel, who has charisma and leadership qualities, can defy the odds and bloom. And while Texans new head coach, Bill O’Brien, thinks he is ingenious at grooming young quarterbacks, having worked with Tom Brady in New England, it seems the Texans are not interested in Manziel. With the Texans owning the No. 1 overall pick, it’s a win-lose situation for the Texans, just as it was in 2006, when they had a chance to select Vince Young, the former Longhorn star and Houston native. That year, they had defensive needs to address and surprisingly made a move the night before the draft when they selected defensive end Mario Williams.
In a way, the Texans absolutely, positively are thinking like that this year as well, targeting another defensive star, for now. It shows in reality that Clowney is a bit more attractive, even though the Texans have to address their need at quarterback with the top pick. So with the Texans on the clock, able to pick any player that suits their personality and style of play, let’s hope they say hello to Johnny Football. But for now, anyway, it’s no telling whether or not a young quarterback intrigues the Texans with his versatility and mobility. The primary goal, with a veteran quarterback on their roster, is holding on to Schaub, as he is the type of quarterback O’Brien likes. If that’s the case, you can’t go wrong with selecting Manziel as a backup, though he’s hoping to become a starter, not a second-string quarterback who’d have to wait in the wings.
The truth is, as much as critics raise concern about Manziel’s work ethic, he has already proven that he’s more mature and focused. It’s the question everybody used to ask every time Manziel’s name was mentioned, but as it turns out, we can only say nice things about Johnny Football. He is an excellent leader, a voice of inspiration, and a fun-loving player who has been relatively able to maintain a low profile since declaring for the draft. And that is true for right now, and it’s helping his draft stock. Manziel, clearly, is staying out of trouble, realizing his enjoyment of partying and the nightlife could derail his career, if not careful.
Never before have so many people believed that he was ready to play at the next level, or arguably the best quarterback in this class, considered one of the top three quarterbacks in the draft. There is, however, no debating that he’s a top-5 QB in the 2014 NFL Draft. That’s not to suggest that Manziel is No. 1 overall, but with the Texans’ current state, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see him go before Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles.
There used to be a time, not too long ago, when we were unsure of Manziel’s future and never acknowledged that he is the best signal-caller in this class. Understanding that he has shown flashes of maturity, Manziel has former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer saying nice things about him. It’s OK for Switzer to make it known that he had never seen a player dominate college football as Johnny did over the past two seasons. These Texans fans — even the ones who prefer Houston to draft Clowney or Bridgewater — realize there’s a possibility Manziel can transcend the franchise and become a global brand. He’s a great prospect. He has great poise, patience and awareness in the pocket — at least he showed us that last season when he was playing at Texas A&M.
The truth behind Manziel is that he’s more accomplished and polished than McCarron, Bridgewater and Bortles. He’s an electrifying talent and definitely is something to watch. Wherever he goes — Houston, Cleveland or Oakland, he can grow into a household name and make an immediate impact, especially since he’s a very exciting player who will make a team look like geniuses or fools.
Tradition at quarterback matters to Jaworski. But that’s not how these NFL organizations think today. In today’s game, it’s about making plays and winning, not sticking with tradition.