Much and more has been made of speculating where Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel will land in the 2014 NFL Draft. Some have him pegged as the number one overall player selected, others have him dropping to the ‘teens and everywhere else in between. Let’s say he falls out of the heavy-QB-needy teams in the top-five and falls into the Minnesota Vikings lap at number 8. Should they take him?
Absolutely. He’s arguably the best QB in the draft, and if the Vikings (who haven’t had a true franchise QB since Fran Tarkenton) have the opportunity to take him without giving up any draft capital, then it’s a no-brainer.
Yes, there will be many who say they shouldn’t. And they have some sound reasoning as to why. He doesn’t have great size; many think he’ll struggle to stay healthy playing his current brand of ball; he’s not a traditional drop-back passer that OC Norv Turner prefers; his outgoing personality may not necessarily mix well with HC Mike Zimmer, etc. All valid reasons. And if the front office and coaching staff are completely sold on waiting until the second round and picking up someone like Zach Mettenberger (QB, LSU), then by all means, take that route.
But if they don’t take Manziel, they’ll be running the risk he turns into exactly what they’ve been looking for since Fran ‘The Man’ retired in 1978.
He’s the most mobile QB in the Draft with arguably the strongest arm, who’s put up epic production in the most rugged of conferences and a guy who’s teammates would run through a wall for. And you’d pass on him at 8 overall because, he’s not big enough? He’s the same size as future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees, and about ten times faster.
You won’t take him at 8 overall because he may not be able to stay healthy in the NFL? He didn’t miss a start in his two legendary seasons in College Station, and is renown for grit, toughness and willingness to play through pain. His playing style won’t translate to the NFL? Funny how successful athletic marvels coming from spread offenses who can make plays with their arms and their feet (Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Bob Griffin, Cam Newton, etc.) have been in the last few years.
What about the fact he won’t be a good fit in Turner’s vertical passing offense? He’s got the arm strength to run that offense, and the playaction will be even more deadly when the Vikes rushing attack is Manziel and some dude named Adrian Peterson. Get real. Plus, any good coach (and Turner is just that) molds much of his play calling and scheme to fit the strengths of his players.
And you’re not going to pass on a potential franchise QB because he may not be a good fit with an OC who’ll probably be off to another job in two years (Turner has been with 6 teams since 2003).
If Zimmer really doesn’t like his personality, then it’s game over. That’s a game changer. If he doesn’t think he’d be a good fit for the new attitude and direction of the team, then I would understand the logic of passing on him if he’s still available. After all, those two will be the faces of the franchise moving forward and who’s success will be closely intertwined.
Still, passing on Manziel is a gamble, as is taking him to be your franchise QB. But the reward could very well outweigh the risk. Taking any QB in the first round is a huge gamble, but when the positives vastly outweigh the negatives and someone such as he falls to you, strike while the iron is hot.