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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Johnny Manziel could be biggest bust of the draft

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel throws a pass

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel throws a pass before a game against Sam Houston State in College Station, Texas on Sept. 7, 2013. Photo Credit: AP / David J. Phillip

There is no in-between with Johnny Manziel.

Some love the guy and everything he brings to a football team, including an uncanny ability to get out of trouble in the pocket and make plays the way only the great ones can, as well as his follow-me-guys vibe.

Mike Mayock, the NFL Network draft expert who puts Manziel at the top of his quarterback rankings, raves about the quarterback's "it" factor.

"Whatever it is, he has it," Mayock says of the Texas A&M quarterback. "I know on Saturday, Sunday, whatever day you play on, he's going to show up with an edge about him thinking he's the best guy on the field, and he's going to elevate the play of those around him."

And some look at Manziel and see the latest in a long line of great college quarterbacks -- think Tim Tebow, Tim Couch and Rick Mirer -- who can't cut it at the next level.

These people doubt that Manziel can make the same magic in the NFL as he did at A&M, where he won the Heisman in his first year as a starter and went 20-6 over two seasons.

Former NFL quarterback Shaun King is entirely convinced that Manziel -- the ultimate boom-or-bust quarterback in this year's draft -- is about to embark on what will turn out to be a disappointing NFL career.

"I'm telling you I think he's going to be a bust," said King, a former Tulane star and Bucs quarterback who is now an NFL analyst for NBC and Yahoo! Sports. "I don't have anything against him, but I have to be honest. I don't see how the things he does [in college] translate to the next level. How do you duplicate what he did [at A&M]? You don't. In the NFL, that ends up being the Mark Sanchez butt fumble."


There is no clear consensus on what might happen with Manziel, or even how high he'll be drafted. In a league in which quarterback demand has never been higher and six of the top eight teams have a need at the position, chances are Manziel will be a top 10 pick. Maybe even the top pick, if Houston casts its lot with the former Aggies star.

Where would King pick Manziel? Not in the first round. Not in the second round. Not even in the third round.

"Let me go down the list of things he doesn't do," King said. "He's got terrible footwork, maybe the worst of any quarterback in this class. He doesn't throw on balance, doesn't throw on rhythm, rarely steps into his throws. Half the time, he jumps in the air on his throws. In the NFL, everything is about precision, about timing. The margin of error is so thin, and that's why footwork is so important."

King, who has watched all of Manziel's game video and attended his pro day in March, said there are so many problems with the quarterback's technique that Manziel won't be able to fix them all when he gets to the NFL. Plus Manziel is just under 6 feet and 214 pounds, and his reckless style on the field ultimately will get him into trouble. And get him hurt.

"He doesn't have a high release point, which bothers me for a guy who's under 6 feet," King said. "He's going to struggle getting the ball over the line when he's between the hash marks. He's a good athlete, but he doesn't have Michael Vick's athleticism. He takes way too many shots, just like Vick did. And Vick's played one full season in his entire career. Manziel is going to be just as injury-prone, probably more so."

And King hasn't even gotten to the questions about Manziel's predilection for partying and basking in the limelight.

"If you succeed, no one has a problem with that stuff. It's sort of like RGIII," King said, referring to Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III. "When they were winning, no one cared that he was on commercials. It became a problem when he started losing. No one would get mad at Russell Wilson because the perception is that he prepares. When your persona is 'I'm a celebrity,' people are harsh in how they evaluate your mistakes."

Manziel has heard all the criticism, but he has plenty of confidence that he'll be as successful in the NFL as he was in college.

"I think [the criticism] is what it is," he said. "I'm able to handle it and able to really adapt to it. It's not something that gets to me all that much. I'm just trying to be a professional and trying to be a starting quarterback in the NFL."

He's about to get that chance, and we'll soon find out which end of the spectrum he's on in the boom-or-bust equation.

Sorry, Johnny. I'm with King.

Too small. Runs too much for his own good. Footwork indeed will get him in trouble. Not enough willingness to go through his progressions the way you need to at the next level.

Hope I'm wrong, because a successful Johnny Football would be good for the NFL and for whichever team takes him.

Hope he's Brett Favre and not Tebow.

Don't think that'll be the case.

New York Sports