Thursday, March 13, 2014

College Football-NFL Comparisons: Johnny Manziel

        I've been waiting to write this one for a while now, as a good debate surrounding Manziel fires me up like it does any college football enthusiast. Say what you want about Manziel, (and everyone takes this liberty), he is going to play a game for a living and make a lot of money doing it. I am not very interested in the off the field stuff (some NFL scouts reportedly are) but I, like most anyone with even a passing interest in football, am enormously intrigued by Manziel as a player. Because, amazingly, the debate does not stop when Manziel steps on the field. People remain divided about him, even as a player, and many question his NFL success. Jaworski, for one, "wouldn't take Manziel in the first three rounds." But the kid won a Heisman for Pete's sake. So of course there is much debate about his ability to perform, but chances are he will go early, some say fifth overall to the Raiders. I see this happening, easily, and when Manziel goes to the NFL I could see him playing like a Doug Flutie.

        Flutie's career was fragmented and short of stellar, but of course he owns some serious college fame and was a great collegiate player. This can undoubtedly be said about Manziel as well, but taken on its own would be a very weak comparison. There are several reasons I join others (specifically, in drawing this comparison: Flutie was mobile as anyone, shocking defenses with his ability to extend plays, move in and out of the pocket, and throw on the run. Manziel and Flutie are incredibly similar in this regard: They make a great highlight reel, with the occasional truly outstanding play, one that runs on Sportscenter for easily a year. Evading and frustrating defensive lines, showing explosive speed and outstanding athleticism, and capping it off with some sort of ridiculous, off balance throw ten seconds after the ball was snapped. Both also exhibit very solid arm strength, and even in the pocket throw a fairly accurate ball downfield, especially down the sideline. Manziel, of course, hopes to have a more prominent run than Flutie in the NFL, perhaps sans the Canadian stints. It should be fun to watch him play professional football, and I recommend you get used to hearing the talk about him, because sometimes it seems that's all we do.

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