Johnny Manziel has his detractors, based on lack of size, character questions, whatever. Do not count former coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden among those critics.
“I want Manziel,” Gruden said on Tuesday. “I realize he’s under six feet tall, maybe he can’t see over the line. I think we blew that theory in the water last year with (Seattle’s Russell) Wilson and (New Orleans’ Drew) Brees. He’s got a 32 on the Wonderlic test. I spent two days with him, and I know he can learn and he wants to learn.
[NFL Draft Profile: Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel]
“He had four different offensive coordinators and two head coaches at Texas A&M. It didn’t matter; he adapted and did extremely well.”
The first round of the draft unfolds Thursday evening, May 8, and Manziel is a virtual lock to go within the top 10 picks. The Cleveland Browns at No. 4 have a glaring need at quarterback but might not act on their apparent interest in Manziel. Ed Werder of ESPN posited that Manziel would not last past Tampa Bay and Lovie Smith at No. 7.
Gruden noted that Manziel was the first freshman to win a Heisman Trophy, though that is an award voted on, not won the field per se. But in two years at Texas A&M, Manziel had the most productive back-to-back seasons in SEC history.
“I don’t know what you want him to do,” Gruden said. “He threw for 8,000 (yards), he ran for 2,000, he had 93 touchdowns in two seasons. All I know is, I want Manziel.”
Gruden acknowledged that Manziel could go through some bumps if only because he is a younger player coming into the NFL. “But I’m sure he can do it,” Gruden declared.