Manziel, young QBs face tricky draft picture
Posted December 16, 2013
Although a few people scoffed, Johnny Manziel probably was being honest when he told reporters in New York on Saturday that he hasn’t decided whether to turn pro or return to Texas A&M next season.
Like a few other non-senior quarterbacks, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner will have to sort through several dicey issues between now and the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare.
Foremost on that front is the unpredictable direction that up to six or seven NFL teams will pursue at the position.
Houston (Matt Schaub), Washington (Robert Griffin III), Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers), New York Jets (Geno Smith), Minnesota (Christian Ponder) and Philadelphia (Michael Vick) all began the 2013 season with millions upon millions of dollars invested in reasonably young quarterbacks who have been inconsistent and/or injured to the extent that there has to be questions about their future effectiveness.
Then there are other teams – Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland and Tennessee – that likely will be in the quarterback market but perhaps only have urgent personnel needs in other positions are addressed first.
But first and foremost, the NFL consists of 32 business operations and the financial bottom line will be weighed 32 different ways pertaining to the payroll.
“There are just a lot of things to try to figure out,” Manziel said at the Heisman Trophy presentation news conference leading up to Florida State red-shirt freshman QB Jameis Winston landing the award.
Winston is ineligible for the draft until the 2015 draft.
Manziel, a red-shirt sophomore, could go, as could non-seniors Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville junior), Blake Bortles (Central Florida junior) and Brett Smith (Wyoming junior).
LATER DRAFT DATE IN 2014
Aside from the fact that NFL teams will have longer to ponder their moves – the 2014 draft will be held later than normal, May 8-10 – the quarterback pool is brimming with senior, potentially inexpensive prospects.
From the ACC alone, Tajh Boyd (Clemson), Bryn Renner (UNC), Stephen Morris (Miami) and Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) fall into that category.
Nationally, there are several other prominent seniors to be blended in: A.J. McCarron (Alabama), Derek Carr (Fresno State), Aaron Murray (Georgia) and Connor Shaw (South Carolina) just to cite a handful.
Most of the draft pundits believe Bridgewater and Carr are certain first-round picks, but there’s widespread disagreement on almost everyone else.
RUSSELL WILSON FACTOR
To a large extent, former N.C. State/Wisconsin star Russell Wilson has caused NFL teams to revise a lot of their traditional thinking about quarterbacks.
Undersized and overlooked until the third round in 2011, Wilson’s success in Seattle has completely flipped the logic pyramid. Compared to the contracts awarded to most NFL stars, Wilson has turned out to be a bargain-basement gold mine mother load.
And if Houston decides to skip a quarterback with its potential No. 1 overall pick, it will be entirely because the Texans’ front office folks want to give undrafted rookie Case Keenum a longer look.
At 5-11 and 205 pounds, Manziel has a similar build to Wilson. Only a few years ago, neither would have been given a chance whatsoever, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll puts a higher priority on passing accuracy than raw size. Dating back to his high school days in Richmond, Va., Wilson has been extraordinarily accurate.
But just because Wilson has been a star, Manziel can’t simply assume that he’ll follow the same path or even fit into an offensive system with the ease that Wilson did with the Seahawks.
Next up on Manziel’s agenda is the Chick-fil-A game against Duke (Dec. 31, 8 p.m., Atlanta). But where he will go from there really could fall into unknown territory for a while.