Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The circus is coming to College Station, complete with an ex-president, a sitting governor and, oh yeah, a whole bunch of TV cameras.
Somewhere amid all the hype and madness, Johnny Manziel will throw a football for assembled NFL personnel.
The Houston Texans hold the #1 overall pick, plus they’re from Texas themselves, so much of the attention will be on them and their coach Bill O’Brien. You can bet the Cowboys contingent will get some press run as well. Jerry Jones will see to that.
The Vikings power trio of Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner will be there too, continuing their long, winding American quarterback pro day tour.
Zimmer has already given us a little preview of what he will be looking for from Manziel (after seeking out Fran Tarkenton’s advice on the matter). It’s not so much the on-field stuff as the character/leadership angle that has the head coach’s attention.
“It’s still going to come down to how we feel about how he’s going to be in the locker room, what kind of person he’s going to be, what kind of leader, and then go from there,” Zimmer told ESPN (via Fox Sports).
But it’s not all about cracking open Johnny’s head and seeing what makes him tick. The throwing matters too believe it or not. Scouts believe Manziel has something to prove, even if he’s only throwing against air.
Draftnik Greg Cosell told Ross Tucker Podcast he believes there are concerns about Manziel’s ability to drive the football deep, and that these concerns should be addressed at his pro day.
“When he had to make throws that were at the intermediate or deeper levels — I’m talking about throws that required a little bit of arm strength — he had to put his entire body into making those throws,” Cosell said. “And that was a concern. Because in the NFL you won’t get clean pockets, you won’t get the same kind of functional space you get in college.
“And he had to work so hard to throw the football down the field, that I’d be anxious to see how he throws. And my guess is they’ll structure his pro day tomorrow to try to show that he can drive the football.”
Johnny should be in his comfort zone, even with all the cameras trained at him and luminaries like George Bush and Governor Rick Perry in attendance. The surroundings are familiar, and he will be throwing to his favorite receiver Mike Evans, who is himself a potential top-10-worthy prospect.
Manziel has faced pressure before, in huge college games, and come up big. There should be no loss of confidence for Johnny Football in front of the bright lights.
In fact, if Manziel’s reputation is even remotely legit, the bright lights should only make him shine brighter.
No matter what happens, there will surely be a Texas-sized load of debate throughout the day. Debate about Manziel’s draft value. Debate about his “red flags.” And, most importantly, debate about whether all this hyped-up pro day madness even matters for evaluation purposes.