The Raiders had Johnny Manziel in for visit at the start of the week and here’s why I’m pretty sure they won’t pick him at No. 5 in next month’s draft.
First off, none of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft are Top 10 picks and general manager Reggie McKenzie has said he strictly goes by the best player available on the Raiders’ draft board. There are at least five walk-in-the-building impact players available (Clowney, Watkins, Mack, Robinson and Matthews) and the Raiders can get one of those if they don’t trade down.
Manziel is a one-read quarterback who made a lot of plays outside the pocket in college. As NFL Films producer Greg Cosell pointed out, he doesn’t anticipate receivers getting open but sees them and then throws it. He missed a lot of open receivers at Texas A&M and he left the pocket when he didn’t really have to.
Sound familiar? Terrelle Pryor has a lot of those qualities, and he would make the Raiders coaches pull their hair out last season when he would ignore something they had game-planned for and improvise.
I am not saying Manizel is Pryor, but Raiders people have confirmed to me that comparison has been part of the process in evaluating Manziel. Is he coachable? Can he stay in the pocket and make plays with his arm? Does he want to?
Manziel’s worst games last year came when LSU and Missouri controlled their rush and kept him in the pocket.
McKenzie has called Manziel “a playmaker” and trust me, Dennis Allen and Greg Olson have really enjoyed watching some of Manziel’s thrilling game tape … but will it translate to the NFL? (And we’re not even talking about how his body holds up to the punishment. Or that Oakland thinks Matt Schaub can be its quarterback for the next 2-3 years.) I just can’t see the Raiders rolling the dice on Manziel at No. 5 with so many great players available.
Is he tempting? Sure. Manziel reminds owner Mark Davis of Kenny Stabler and maybe he is a special player who gets better, elevates teammates and makes plays. Manziel definitely has swagger, which Allen mentioned often last season as something he is looking for in his players.
In our sit-down at the NFL Combine, Allen talked about Manziel and his swagger.
“Absolutely, Johnny has swagger,” Allen said. “Here is the thing about Johnny Manziel. This guy has been a winner, and he’s won everywhere he’s been. So that’s one of the things you look at when you look at this kid.
“Texas A&M went into the SEC and nobody really gave them a chance … and all of a sudden this freshman quarterback goes off and they’re in the National Championship picture for a long time. He brings that to a team.”
The Raiders, like the other teams in the top half of the first round, have been trying to figure out if Manziel is an athlete playing quarterback or a quarterback who is athletic. And once they figure that out, do they love him enough to take him with their first pick?
What do you think?