Former Texas A&M quarterback and current 2014 NFL Draft prospect Johnny Manziel, perhaps more commonly referred to as “Johnny Football”, is arguably the most talked about college football player since Tim Tebow captivated the college sports world nearly three years ago. With the NFL Draft Combine taking place, you can rest assured that the media hype surrounding Manziel will only grow bigger during the months leading up to the NFL Draft (May 8-10).
Despite his uncanny ability to make great plays on the football field, there are, however, several question marks surrounding Manziel and his ability to succeed as an NFL quarterback. Among these are concerns relating to his sometimes erratic off-field behavior, and especially his relatively short height and small stature that doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the “prototypical” NFL quarterback. At just 5’11” and 207 pounds, his pre-draft physical measurables fall well short of those displayed by fellow NFL hopefuls Teddy Bridgewater (6’2”, 214 lbs) and Blake Bortles (6’5”, 230 lbs).
Manziel, however, may just be the best player, regardless of position, available in the 2014 NFL draft. He has done more than enough over the last two years at Texas A&M to prove that he is not only an outstanding football player with a knack for making amazing plays, but also a true winner. After winning the starting quarterback job in 2012, Manziel quickly made A&M fans forget about Ryan Tannehill, leading the Aggies to a combined 20-6 over the past two seasons. For many NFL evaluators, however, the elephant in the room remains. Johnny Manziel isn’t even 6 foot tall. How can he possibly succeed in the NFL with that small frame of his? How will he ever be able to see over an NFL line and find an open receiver? Here are three legitimate reasons that Manziel’s height will not prevent him from achieving success in the NFL:
1. He Makes Plays
Simply put, Johnny Manziel is a tremendous football player. Over the past two seasons, he has completed 68.9% of his passes for 7,820 yards, while tossing 63 touchdown passes and posting a career passer rating of 164.1. He has also demonstrated an unbelievable ability to make plays outside of the pocket during his collegiate career, rushing for 2,169 yards on a 6.3 yard per carry average. As he has stated himself, he plays like he is 10 feet tall.
2. He’s Been Doing it His Entire Life
Contrary to popular belief, passing behind a college offensive line is not really any different from passing behind an NFL offensive line. If Manziel can effectively play quarterback behind five 6’4”+ offensive lineman in college, what is preventing him from doing the same in the NFL?
3. It’s Been Done Before
Drew Brees is 6’0”, Michael Vick is 6’0”, and Russell Wilson is 5’10”. Johnny Manziel is 5’11”. Truth is, the myth that a successful quarterback needs to be over six feet tall never held any relevance, and should have been dispelled years ago. With the recent success of Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson, maybe we can finally put this “short quarterback” nonsense behind us, for good.
Regardless of where Johnny Manziel is drafted come May 8th, his size will have no effect on whether he ultimately becomes a successful quarterback in the NFL, or an utter failure. Many will analyze and scrutinize his game in the coming months, as is always the case with potential Top-5 NFL draft picks. One thing for certain, however, is that we would probably not even be talking about him as a possible first round pick if not for the recent success of several shorter NFL quarterbacks, such as Russell Wilson, who has undoubtedly helped to pave the way for not only Johnny Manziel, but also for short NFL quarterback prospects in years to come.
Tracy Price is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at TPrice@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com