Perhaps no college football has been scrutinized more than Johnny Manziel. The former Texas A&M quarterback dazzled in the spotlight during his two years in college, providing college football fans enough excitement to last them through at least one off-season. While Manziel has earned the nickname “Johnny Football” due to this unusual athletic feats on the field, many NFL experts and executives still doubt whether or not the former Aggie will be able to make it at the next level. There is one former NFL great who has no doubts, however – Fran Tarkenton.
In a recent interview with USA Today, Tarkenton states, “Nobody really played like I played. This kid plays like I did more than anybody else.”
Such a statement coming from Tarkenton is not one to be laughed at. Tarkenton played 18 seasons in the NFL for both the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. By the time Tarkenton retired in 1978, he owned almost every important quarterback record on the books. In his stellar career, Tarkenton racked up 3,686 completions for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns through the air, adding another 3,674 yards rushing to combine for over 50,000 total career yards.
And he did so facing almost all the same criticisms currently plaguing Manziel.
The biggest beef NFL scouts have against Manziel’s game is potentially his size. At the NFL combine, Manziel measured in at 5-foot-11 and 3/4 inches tall and 207 pounds – a mere 1/4 inch shorter than Tarkenton but 17 pounds heavier.
1) I've gone back and watched and re-watched Johnny Manziel – and I still grade him the same…Not a QB I'm drafting in the top-25
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 10, 2014
“People are going to say, ‘Well, he’s only 5-11¾ tall. I wasn’t as big, strong and fast as all these other players. But I knew how to play,” states Tarkenton.
From his career college stat line, one cannot deny that Manziel knows how to play as well. In his two years at Texas A&M, Manziel threw for 7,820 yards with 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. These numbers helped Manziel to destroy Alabama’s No. 1 defense in two consecutive years and led to the Aggie winning the Heisman Trophy in his freshman season.
— Fran Tarkenton (@Fran_Tarkenton) March 11, 2014
Despite all of the skill and accolades Manziel has received, there are still those who hold many doubts as to whether Manziel will be a successful NFL quarterback. While some question if Manziel will be big enough to compete at a more physically demanding level, most question if Manziel is mature enough to handle the responsibility of being an NFL quarterback.
“The things that went on last year with him leaving the Manning camp and other activities, I just want to understand that a little better. Everything I’ve seen of the kid, I love… But you’ve got to make sure. Because there’s never been a great quarterback I know of who was a rodent,” opined Tarkenton.
The discrepancies in the analysis of “Johnny Football” have led to an insanely diverse set of opinions as to when Manziel will be selected in this year’s NFL Draft; Some scouts have Manziel being chosen by the Houston Texans as the first overall pick, while others have college football’s most dynamic quarterback slipping all the way to the third round.
Whatever the result of the 2014 NFL Draft, one thing is for certain – the ever-constant analysis of Johnny Manziel is not going to cease anytime soon.