Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
In the wake of Mike Zimmer’s comments calling Johnny Manziel’s pro day a “sideshow” and telling reporters that he had concerns about what type of pro Manziel would be, there’s been speculation as to whether Zimmer was just laying an elaborate pre-draft “smokescreen,” or whether he was really not high on Manziel as a prospect.
Well, first of all, Zimmer’s statements on Manziel simply indicate that he has questions about him (and I think every coach and GM does), they weren’t an indication as to what type of answers Zimmer might have received.
But the comments did create this debate on NFL.com: Can the Vikings afford to pass on Johnny Manziel?
Three analysts said the Vikings should pass if they’re not comfortable with him. Two said he was a can’t-miss prospect the team needs to grab him if they’re able. One, Gil Brandt, the legendary Dallas Cowboys personnel man, essentially abstained by saying he didn’t think Manziel would be available for the Vikings to take.
I tend to fall into the former camp. If Mike Zimmer isn’t comfortable with a prospect, especially a quarterback, why would you try to force that fit? If you’re Rick Spielman, you need your next quarterback pick to be correct so I doubt you would stack the odds against yourself by putting your quarterback with a coach who doesn’t want him. If Manziel somehow does make it to No. 8 (which does seem highly unlikely at this point) and Zimmer doesn’t like him, trade that pick to a team that wants him and use the picks you acquire to help you go after another quarterback.
Here may be an even more relevant question though, and one that may be slightly less subjective:
Would the Vikings pass on Johnny Manziel, if he fell to them?
My answer would be yes.
Mike Zimmer’s coaching mentor, Hall of Famer Bill Parcells, used to say: “don’t be a celebrity quarterback.” Parcells wanted his quarterback to focus on football first and not be chasing attention or the spotlight.
Well, Johnny Manziel is currently in a commerical with Lebron James. Drake just wrote a song about him. It’s hard to argue that Manziel doesn’t chase the spotlight at least a little bit, and that’s not what Bill Parcells wanted in his quarterback. And I don’t expect Zimmer to differ radically from his mentor in that respect, especially when this may be his only shot at a head coaching job.
It’s clear Zimmer takes a lot of his coaching style from his mentor. He is a tough, no-nonsense coach who demands hard work and has littler tolerance for any B.S. Right or wrong, the persona Manziel had for much of his college career was showy, flashy, and contained plenty of B.S. Zimmer knows that he may only get one shot at this and the quarterback he helps select will define his head coaching tenure. Why would he tie himself to a guy that seems like the exact opposite of the guy he was taught to want?
Not to mention, it’s hard to see Manziel and Norv Turner meshing as well. While Turner did compliment how Manziel threw the ball at his pro day, I don’t think Turner will look at Manziel as a fit for his system.
Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Turner likes passers who can operate out of the pocket, and while Manziel can do that, that’s still not where he excels. Manziel is going to require a creative offensive coordinator who plays to his strengths if he is to succeed at the next level.
While Turner’s system is certainly adaptable (he’s already added 10 new plays this offseason for Cordarrelle Patterson), it seems like his playbook would require a significant makeover to suit Manziel. Do I see Turner overhauling his system, which has weathered over 20 NFL seasons, for a new prospect with plenty of question marks?
It’s not impossible, but it’s definitely not likely.
I’m sure Zimmer and Turner think another quarterback in this draft would click better with their personalities and systems. And Rick Spielman should take that guy.
Don’t brace yourself for Manziel mania Vikings fans, because I think you will be disappointed.
So what do you think? If Manziel is available at No. 8, should the Vikings sprint to the podium? Do you think he’s too exciting to pass up, or are you willing to look elsewhere at quarterback? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @Goatman102!