Opinions have always been mixed on Johnny Manziel and that has not changed when it comes to his NFL draft prospects. Despite being projected as a high first round pick, ESPN analyst Merril Hoge thinks drafting the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback high in the first round would be a “big, big risk.”
“I see bust written all over him,” Hoge said Wednesday on SportsCenter. “Especially if he’s drafted in the first round.”
Manziel is generally considered a Top 10 pick and one of the three best quarterbacks available in the May draft. Some mock drafts even have Manziel going first overall to the Houston Texans.
Hoge, who played in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears from 1987-1994, has been an analyst for ESPN since 1996 and is known for his straightforward, stern opinions – opinions that are generally respected. Manziel’s propensity to jolt from the pocket and run is a concern for Hoge.
“He has absolutely no instinct or feel for pocket awareness. He has an instinct to run. That’s a bad instinct if you’re going to have that in the National Football League. You have to play in the pocket with traffic around you and throw it,” Hoge said.
“When traffic comes around him, he runs, and that's dangerous in the National Football League. His skill set does not transition to the National Football League, and it is a big, big risk. In fact, I see bust written all over him, especially if he's drafted in the first round."
Manziel’s style does not exactly fit in with the prototypical NFL pocket quarterback, but it’d be ignoring the facts to say that Manziel did not improve as a passer in his second year as Texas A&M’s starter. He completed just under 70 percent of his passes while throwing for 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns. At the same time, his rushing attempts and yardage decreased in his sophomore season as teams aimed to keep him in the pocket and make him win the game with his arm.
It’s a pretty safe bet to say that Manziel will be picked in the first round. Whether he’ll be a bust like Hoge thinks remains to be seen.
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