Mike Zimmer Wants To Know If Johnny Manziel Can Lead


Mar 20, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel shake hands following the fourth quarter of the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

There are lots of questions about Johnny Manziel going into the draft. Can he become a pocket passer? Can his gunslinger tendencies be reined in? Is he big and strong enough to hold up in the NFL?

And then there are the questions about his maturity and leadership. Natural questions, I guess, given some of the stuff that has followed Manziel around since he first burst on the scene as a college star.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has a lot of same questions about Manziel as other people. For Zimmer, the big thing is Manziel’s ability to lead.

“It’s still going to come down to how we feel about how he’s going to be in the locker room,” Zimmer told ESPN in a Tuesday interview (via Fox Sports North). “What kind of person he’s going to be, what kind of a leader, and go from there.”

A polite way of saying he wonders if Johnny Manziel is too much of a knucklehead.

It’s a tough evaluation given all the variables in terms of on-field performance and alleged off-field character issues. To help him with the Manziel puzzle, Zimmer has reportedly enlisted the aid of former Vikings great Fran Tarkenton.

What did Tark tell Zimmer?

“I did talk to Fran, and we talked a lot about (Manziel) because of the height with Manziel and the scrambling ability and things like that,’’ Zimmer said to ESPN. “Just (got) some of his insights for playing the game so long. …. He said a lot of good things about Manziel.”

Tarkenton is on Team Manziel. So are Gil Brandt and Brett Favre. Of course, they aren’t the ones having to evaluate Manziel as a potential #8 draft pick.

There’s a hell of a lot more on the line for Zimmer and the Vikings than there is for Manziel’s various cheerleaders in the media and among fans.

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