March 20, 2018

The Texans Should Pass On Johnny Manziel

For the third time in franchise history, the Houston Texans will have the first overall pick in the NFL draft. Perhaps not so coincidentally, a brand new head coach was in charge of making that pick each time. In a scenario very similar to what led up to the 2006 draft, the Texans will have another opportunity to select a very popular quarterback from a nearby college.

It’s like the Texans have jumped into a phone booth and taken a bogus journey back to 2006. Just like in the 2006 draft, they’ll go into the 2014 draft with a new head coach, coming off the worst season in franchise history, and needing a home run draft pick to restore fan confidence in the direction of the team. In 2006 the popular fan choice was for the Texans to draft Houston native and former Texas Longhorn quarterback Vince Young, but the team made the unpopular decision to instead select defensive end Mario Williams from North Carolina State. In hindsight the Texans made the correct decision, but a small percentage of fans still remain upset over the choice. Faced with a similar decision this year on whether to draft Texas A&M quarterback and Texas native Johnny Manziel, the Texans should again pass on taking the popular choice.


Decision Making

Manziel has obvious natural ability, but I believe having Mike Evans has inflated his draft value. Every time I watch the Aggies play, Manziel has a handful of plays where he throws a baseball style pop-fly into double or triple coverage, but has the fortune of getting bailed out when Evans out jumps and/or out muscles the defenders to catch the ball. Nearly every one of those pass attempts would be intercepted at the professional level.

Manziel also has shown a tendency to carry the ball one-handed down by his waist when scrambling and moving around in the pocket to evade a pass rusher; he has the potential to be a fumble machine in the NFL. Fans will claim that tendency can be coached out of him, but I’m not so sure. When a player has done things a certain way for that long, like Tebow’s throwing motion, its very difficult to get them to break the habit. He’s a better natural passer than Tebow or Vince Young which gives him a better chance to succeed, but a large part of what made him thrilling to watch in college will make him frustrating to root for in the NFL. He’s not just a gunslinger, he’s reckless. Running in circles, turning his back on defenders, and attempting off balance passes across his body worked in college, but will get him and his team killed at the next level.

I love that he’s aggressive and willing to take chances, but there is a fine line between aggressive and stupid that Manziel crosses nearly every game. Name a successful NFL quarterback that plays a similar style to Manziel? Maybe he’ll break the mold, but more likely he’ll have to adapt his style to survive in the NFL. The question then becomes, is he capable of or mature enough to adapt? He’s a quarterback that seems to try for a home run on every single play. Sometimes checking it down to the running back for a three yard gain is the right play. Sometimes taking the open underneath route and punting to give the defense field position, instead of forcing a pass down field into double coverage on 3rd and long is the right play. Manziel plays every play like it’s 4th and 10 with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter which makes him fun to watch, but can also make him a liability on the field.


Not Pro-Ready

I’m always a little skeptical about quarterbacks who have played exclusively in wide-open spread offenses. I’m not claiming Manziel is a system quarterback like most people label Texas Tech quarterbacks, but there will be a lengthy learning curve. Spread systems are designed to create easier throws for the quarterback and Manziel like other players who play in systems like what Texas A&M uses, aren’t often challenged to make a full progression read and go to their third or fourth option, or have to fit a pass into a tight window.

To piggyback off my previous bullet point, Manziel too often makes one or two reads on a pass play and then abandons the routes being run and tries to make a play with his legs and athleticism instead. Those decisions often led to spectacular plays in college, but will lead to turnovers and injuries if that pattern continues in the NFL. We saw a few teams like LSU that were able to keep him in the pocket and force him to beat them with only his arm, and Manziel looked very uncomfortable and the big plays disappeared. Manziel finished the 2012 game vs. LSU having completed 51% of his passes with no touchdowns and three interceptions. In the Aggies 2013 game against LSU, Manziel completed 16-41 passes (39%) with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. In the NFL, he’ll face teams with the talent and speed of LSU every week. Most of the players in the NFL responsible for containing or spying the quarterback will be just as fast and just as athletic as the ex-Aggie quarterback. He’ll still make a few spectacular plays with his legs, but he won’t be able to depend on them play after play. NFL defenses will force him to stay in the pocket, go through all of his reads, and beat them with his arm.


We’ve seen how quickly fads like the wildcat or zone-read option plays have fallen in popularity as defenses have figured out how to slow them down; Manziel will have to develop in the pocket to be a long-term success. When I say develop in the pocket, I’m not talking about his throwing motion or accuracy. What Manziel will have to do is learn to be patient and let plays develop, not force throws, go through all his reads, be selective as to when he decides to scramble, and protect the football when he does run. It’s possible that he can learn to do all those things, but it’ll take time, time that he won’t have as the number one overall pick. If I had to make a guess, Manziel seems like a strong-willed, stubborn in his ways type of guy that wouldn’t take well to approaching the game in a different way.


Size (Not Height)

Let me stress that my question over his size is not about his height, but his slight build. He’s listed as 210 pounds, but like height, weight is sometimes exaggerated by college teams. Even if he weighs in at 210 pounds at the NFL combine, just look at him, his body frame looks small. A quick Google image search should confirm this to any skeptics. I don’t think he can withstand a full season of hits from grown men; especially with his scrambling style of play. Michael Vick’s style of play (early in his career) and build is very similar to Manziel, and the former top pick by the Falcons has struggled with injury problems his entire career. Even against college competition, Manziel dealt with injury problems this season, those problems will multiply in the NFL.



This issue is well documented. I have no problem with a college kid drinking or going to a party, but when that college player is trying to become a franchise quarterback and earn a contract worth over $20 million dollars; teams have every right to be concerned over his lifestyle. As a team, if the Texans decide to invest three to five years, millions of dollars, and make him the face of their franchise, they have to feel comfortable with the player’s work ethic, commitment to show up on time and in shape, and that he won’t get involved in activities that might embarrass the franchise. I know Manziel loves football, but his actions sometime make me wonder what is his top priority? In college when you’re the best athlete on the field and the talent on your team is superior to the opponent nearly every week, preparing like Peyton Manning isn’t necessary. Will Manziel be willing to not go out every night and instead put in the extra time required to compete and win at the NFL level? His actions so far leave me with questions on his level of commitment. Hell, who among us wouldn’t kill to live in his shoes for a day? I mean damn, did you see the picture of the girl he was with in California this week? I’m not judging him on a personal level, but because of the relentless microscope they’re placed under, NFL players are obviously held to a different standard.

None of Manziel’s actions or activities has offended me, but the attention that those activities bring is a huge distraction to a team. Some of that is the fault of the 24 hour news media and talk radio, but regardless, coaches hate distractions. His teammates, especially the veterans in their 30’s, will also resent having to answer media questions about Manziel every day. We saw how the circus surrounding Tebow played a role in tearing apart the Jets locker room; what do you think will happen if Manziel is drafted number one overall by a team in his home state? Manziel will need time to grow both on and off the field in order to succeed in the NFL. If the Texans select him first overall, the pressure and spotlight will greatly intensify. Putting him in that situation would be a disaster; the worst possible scenario in my opinion. Making him the new face and savior of a struggling team in his home state would be too much, too soon for him to deal with at this point.

The ideal situation for Manziel in my opinion would to be drafted in the second round by a team with a creative offensive coordinator/head coach and a franchise quarterback already in place like the Saints or Patriots. That situation would give Manziel time to develop, would pair him with an offense that wouldn’t try to fit him in the same box as every other quarterback, and would take some pressure off of him while the veteran QB finished his career. However, it only takes one team to fall in love with a guy (Broncos/Tebow) to be selected too early. There are never any guarantees when drafting a college player, but the number one pick should be someone with not only great potential, but also someone with very few question marks. The list of question marks surrounding Manziel is longer than highways like I-45 that connect the big cities of this great state. Too much for me; I would pass on Johnny Manziel with the first overall pick.

14 Responses to “The Texans Should Pass On Johnny Manziel”
  1. cartooner says:


  2. BFP says:

    After watching and reading about Bridgewater I think he will fit nicely into O’Brien’s plans. He’s run a west coast pro-style offense & has evolved into reading the entire field on his progressions. If Foster recovers and the OL is shored up Teddy won’t have to do too much, too soon. While Johnny has the WOW factor, I agree he also has too many ???? … He will be taken early by Jacksonville, Cleveland or Oakland for that very reason and I wish him the best!!

  3. Stephen says:

    You talk about all these “pop-flys” to Evans and show a video of a pass that wasn’t caught by Evans…

  4. Benjamin says:

    “Having Mike Evans inflated his draft value” What do think having AJ Johnson as WR would do to his value??? If the Texans do pass on Manziel I hope they take long hard look.

  5. Jeff says:

    I’d take Johnny over Bridgewater. And cut the crap about the maturity issue. It’s over-hyped by the media. He went to some frat parties and signed some autographs, big deal.

  6. Brett says:

    Not your best work, you’re reaching a bit. He weighs more than Teddy who is taller. Talk about his frame. Johnny is also the most accurate passer in this draft. Watch film.

  7. Brett says:

    Written like a true longhorn homer.

  8. Al D says:

    Teddy has the ability to gain more weight to his frame that’s what many don’t get. He lost weight this season cause he had to get surgery for his jaw. Add in the fact all the practices and games, well he wasn’t gonna get back the weight he had lost. An offseason program easily gets that weight back. And Teddy has been compared to Manning/Brady in his work ethic and love for the game, how he prepares watching video all thru the week of opposing teams.

    And whether the person is a UT fan or not, he makes very valid points that have been raised by others. Johnny Football is not gonna get away with half the stuff he does in college, and the fact that he played in a spread offense hurts his development. There will be a lengthy learning curve just off that simple aspect, him playing in a spread offense

  9. Don In Boulder City says:

    Agreed 100%. But you can’t convince Aggies that Manziel, at best, will have short term success in the NFL, if any at all. Just like you cannot convince Longhorns that Vince Young didn’t transition well to the NFL.

    • Dreyfus says:

      Come on people Manziel is not VYor MV! He is a way more gifted passer than either! Completed more passes than either player! Remember if not for him the aggies would never had made the impact on the SEC. Vince was a very inaccurate passer in college mainly got by on his superior athletcism.

  10. Bballer says:

    Take Johnny and Mike. The new wave of quarterbacks in the NFL is in. These stories are based on bias media. They want the Texans to choose other picks. They want the Texans to fail. Lets get some excitement back in Houston football. Or we will have a mass exit of great players soon.

  11. Bballer says:

    ALL players are subject to fail in the NFL. There are no guarantees in football about who will make it or not. No one gave Wilson a chance. But OH MY, he won a super bowl with a great team too. Take that chance. Mike is an awesome athlete. We need a dominant receiver like him. Just do it.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] For a more in depth discussion of why I wouldn’t select Johnny Manziel, click here for my previous article on the subject. […]

  2. […] For my thoughts on Manziel, click here. […]

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