Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the leader for the Minnesota Vikings in the latest installment of our Mock Draft Database, is as polarizing a prospect as there has been in the NFL Draft in quite some time, and with good reason. We've all seen the film of Manziel making something out of nothing against numerous teams, and he's been the most exciting player in college football over the past couple of years. However, there are genuine concerns that his skill set might not translate to the National Football League.
New Vikings' head coach Mike Zimmer, knowing that his team needs a quarterback, is apparently doing his due diligence on the man they call Johnny Football. At Manziel's Pro Day on Thursday, Zimmer took some time away from the "sideshow" in College Station to speak with Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin about. . .well, a lot of things, apparently. Sumlin wasn't offering up exactly what was talked about.
"I was a GA at Washington State for Mike Price, my first job. Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator. We've known each other a long time and I hadn't seen him since he got the (Vikings) job," Sumlin said. "We were just talking about a few things, but yeah, I'm sure Johnny came up in the conversation."
More notably, as remiel6 posted in the FanPosts a few days ago, Zimmer sought the counsel from Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton has been in Manziel's corner for a long time, and has even gone so far as to say the following:
"I think if you go back and look at my films, Russell Wilson plays like me a lot," Tarkenton said of the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl hero. "But Manziel maybe even more because he's got great instincts and knows when to jump right and jump left and he buys time to throw.
"The first time I saw him play in Alabama (in 2012), he's playing against the No. 1 team in the country, and I couldn't believe what I saw. I said, 'Holy ..., that's how I played."
It's hard to look at film of Tarkenton and Manziel and not see a lot of similarities. According to Pro Football Reference, Tarkenton measured in at about 6 feet tall and around 190 pounds during his playing career. At the Scouting Combine, Manziel came in at 5'11 3/4" and 207 pounds. The difficulty, however, is in considering how much NFL defenses have changed during that time.
For example, Tarkenton's teammates that comprised the famed Purple People Eaters on defense (Alan Page, Gary Larsen, Jim Marshall, and Carl Eller) averaged about 250 pounds, with Larsen being the biggest at just over 260. Conversely, if you look at the projected starting front four for the Vikings in 2014 (Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Sharrif Floyd, and Linval Joseph), you get an average of 290 pounds, with both Floyd and Joseph coming in over the 300-pound mark. I understand that college defenses have gotten bigger, stronger, and faster over that time as well, but we all know that the NFL is a totally different animal.
As I've said before, Johnny Manziel is one of those guys that isn't going to develop into an "average" NFL quarterback. He's either going to be the same amazing player on Sundays that he was on Saturdays. . .or he's going to crash and burn. For someone with his style of play, there doesn't appear to be a lot of in-between. There seem to be a lot of people moving into the "amazing" camp, however.
Is Mike Zimmer one of those people? Whether he is or whether he isn't, he's making sure he's informed about it.