Johnny Manziel Redefines The NFL Pro Day
This guy didn't disappoint, camo shorts and all.
Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher
Aside from a wrinkle here and a wrinkle there, NFL Pro Days for quarterbacks are by and large the same thing -- a bunch of scripted plays thrown to familiar receivers against cones and air, with the quarterback wearing gym shorts and t-shirts.
Ultimately, even on a subpar Pro Day, quarterbacks wind up completing like 85 to 90 percent of their passes against nobody, Ron Jaworski and Mike Mayock find a few things to nitpick, grades get handed out, and we all go on our merry way.
That was the formula.
Then, like so many things in the last 18 months, Johnny Manziel changed the formula.
With music from his good friend Drake blaring from the speakers, donning camo shorts and a black #2 jersey (both available at nike.com), and sporting shoulder pads and a football helmet, Johnny Manziel unleashed a Pro Day symphony co-composed by him and his personal quarterback coach, George Whitfield, for among others, former president George Bush (41) and former first lady Barbara Bush, as was Governor Rick Perry.
Honestly, the only thing missing was a Titantron, a ramp, and WWE Hall of Fame ring announcer Howard Finkel introducing Manziel to the 75 representatives there from 30 of the 32 NFL teams. (Chicago and Cleveland abstaining. Yes, Cleveland. Nice smokescreen.)
But it all would have been one big punchline if Johnny Manziel had come out flat, if he had disappointed.
It started with Manziel's gathering all of the scouts in attendance and telling them exactly what they would see and how this would go, a rare step for any college prospect, and construed by many of the teams in attendance as an encouraging sign of leadership.
From there, with rap music thumping in the background, and with Whitfield swinging the brooms at him to simulate the long arms of defenders, Manziel executed the script of a workout consisting of 64 throws which had him rolling left, rolling right, dropping back into the pocket (three, five, and seven step drops), all throws the scouts were anxious to see him make considering the unorthodox offense he played in during his two seasons at Texas A&M.
Additionally, Manziel took all the throws from under center, which he did on all of one snap last season at A&M.
The final stats on the day -- 61 of 64, with the three incompletions coming on two catchable balls hitting the ground and Mike Evans catching one out of bounds. Like most Pro Day workouts, "air" took another beating.
So where does Manziel go from here? What does this mean to his draft prospects, and could he be the pick for the Texans at number one?
Time will tell. Size issues and durability questions remain, and are virtually incurable. Manziel's not growing at all before the draft, and he won't have a chance for anybody to pummel him to see how fast his body recovers.
One thing was clear in abundance, though -- wherever Manziel winds up, people will come, and with people comes relevance. Wherever Johnny Football ends up, that team instantly matters. It was probably going to be that way regardless of how Thursday went. What Thursday showed us is that relevance just might come along with the best player in the draft.
At the very least, Blake Bortles is probably clamoring for a redo on his Pro Day where he can wear pads, a helmet, and tack on two 50 pound dumbbells strapped to each arm.
After all, you got to up the ante. Johnny Football just changed the game. Again.
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