The most notable and polarizing name of the 2014 NFL Draft has been and will be Johnny Manziel.
Manziel has been working out on the west coast in preparation for the draft in May. One of the people he has been working closely with has been former 2008 3rd round selection Kevin O’Connell, who joined Fan Interference on Friday.
“He’s been great to work with,” O’Connell said. “His work ethic has been fantastic. I think he really gets the fact that there’s a whole game out there that he needs to continue to learn.”
Manziel has built up a perception of being a “diva” and a reputation among fans and media of being arrogant.
“I really don’t get that vibe of arrogance,” O’Connell said of Manziel’s personality. “I definitely pick up signs of confidence. I definitely pick up signs of a guy that has extreme belief in his own abilities. The idea that he can not only help his teammates around him be better football players, but he thinks he can win at everything.”
There is a fine line between being confident and being arrogant, and typically that line is from the outside looking in.
Kevin O’Connell has also had experience as being a part of Bill O’Brien’s offense while O’Brien was in New England, and he feels Manziel would fit that offense nicely.
“I really think he would be a good fit,” O’Connell said about Bill O’Brien’s offense in Houston. “What that offense does, and we’ve seen Tom Brady do it at the highest of levels, is it provides the quarterbacks, if he’s willing and able, all the tools he’d need at the line of scrimmage(with pre-snap calls).”
“He (Manziel) has the mental capacity to handle an offense like that. I think that combining that with that ‘Johnny Football’ mantra of making plays in and out of the pocket, moving the chains any way that he can, it’ll keep him more healthy, he won’t have to be hit as much, and it will get the ball out of his hands.”
O’Connell said that he has been working with Manziel a lot on the mental side of football. He also explained how Manziel understands the quarterback he must be to succeed in the NFL.
“The one thing Johnny knows is that running style will not last, it will not translate completely to the NFL,” O’Connell said of Manziel’s ability to run. “There will be plays 3, 4, 5 times a game where that talent is going to come out and he’s going to make those plays that could be to win a game. There’s gonna be 20-25 throws from the pocket where he’s going to take a 3 or 5 step drop in rhythm, go through a progression, and make a decision to go to his 1st, 2nd, of check down option.”
Some people have tried to compare Johnny Manziel to Tim Tebow, and the two players could not be further from each other. Manziel has no issue with motion, or throwing, or accuracy. Manziel has the ability to throw from the pocket or make plays on the run.
The other main difference between Tebow and Manziel might be the perceived character of each player. This is an issue that O’Connell feels will be a non issue moving forward.
“Whatever has happened in the past, is in the past. He’s ready to become a professional,” O’Connell said of Manziel’s lifestyle. “When I guy commits to that and is willing to be the 1st guy in in the morning, and the last guy out at night, and I know that’s a cliche, but for a quarterback in the NFL, that’s the most important thing.”
O’Connell would then say Manziel will be that type of quarterback.
I have said it for a while now, but for someone 20 or 21 years old to have the amount of publicity and popularity thrusted upon him just because he played football extremely well would be difficult for ANYONE to control. The positive I see in all of this is that he’s made his rookie mistakes in college and nothing the NFL could throw at him due to popularity will come as a culture shock to him.
If you’re going to criticize Manziel, criticize him for the real limitations he might have. His lack of height to see over a massive offensive line has only been conquered by a select few in the NFL. Playing with reckless abandon will lead to more injuries unless he plays smarter.
Criticizing a quarterback like Manziel for partying in college or displaying what you might call arrogance, but could also just be confidence, is just your excuse to try and not like the player.
Follow Justin Pawlowski on twitter @Commishonline for updates on the NFL Draft and the Bucs.