Dear Gomes: Johnny Football
Issue   |   Tue, 04/08/2014 - 23:18

DEAR GOMES — I loved watching Johnny Manziel dance around and make ridiculous throws at Texas A&M and am wondering how his game will translate to the NFL. Is he going to be the next big thing?­ — Aggie Lover

Dear Aggie Lover,
The NFL game is changing. It is much faster and relies on quarterbacks to make good decisions in short periods of time. With speedy defensive ends such Jadaveon Clowney and Clay Matthews hunting quarterbacks, it is essential for quarterbacks to be mobile in the pocket. Johnny Football does exactly this. He made breathtaking, highlight plays and put up phenomenal stats during his college career, which included the coveted Heisman trophy. He is super competitive and single handedly willed his team to many of their victories. I believe Johnny Manzeil will be successful in the NFL, but I am skeptical if his success is sustainable.

First off, throughout college, Manzeil played with reckless abandon and put his body on the line every play. The success of NFL franchises relies on the stability at quarterback. For example, the Indianapolis Colts were predicted to compete for the playoffs, but once Peyton Manning sustained a season ending neck injury they did not win a game all season. Manzeil is very talented and will be productive when healthy, but he must be cognizant of his body. He must avoid taking unnecessary hits to conserve his body. If that means going out of bounds 3 yards before taking a hit from a 300 pound linemen, then he must do so.

A major issue for NFL executives is his commitment to football and whether he is willing to make the time commitment to be a NFL quarterback. It has been well documented he likes to party and had a very controversial summer before his sophomore season, which included getting arrested in a bar fight. But what college student hasn’t made some mistakes? While it has taken him a long time, Manzeil understands his ability on the football field has thrusted him into the media spotlight. In American media, athlethes rise fast but can disappear at a moments instant, i.e Vince Young. I have no doubt that Johnny Manzeil act as a professional once drafted. He showed signs during his terrific pro day and scouts have marveled over the improvements he has already made. He will put whatever time necessary to become a great quarterback.

There is no doubt in my mind that Manzeil will be a great quarterback in the NFL, but the pieces must fall into place. He must go to an organization that will nurture his playing style to be productive in this league (aka not getting drafted by Oakland). It would be foolish to think that he is a Day 1 starter as well. Aaron Rodgers and Colin Kaepernick took the time to learn on the sideline before becoming some of the league’s elite quarterbacks. It is important that the process is not rushed and he is comfortable with the challenges the NFL poses. In the end, Johnny Manzeil is way too talented to not be successful in this league. He has the athleticism and the big arm to be successful. Players such as Russell Wilson and Drew Brees have paved the way for smaller quarterbacks too. Personally, I cannot wait for his first NFL game and it will be must watch TV.

P.S. In the late rounds of fantasy, if Manzeil is available he must be taken. My prediction is that he will have an incredible first year with defenses trying to adjust to his playing style.