INDIANAPOLIS — Everyone wants to know about Johnny Manziel at the NFL scouting combine.
Manziel and Michael Sam, through the early media sessions, have been the most-asked about players. And with Manziel, everyone wants to know about his character, especially in light of the recent "me first" and "prima donna" scouting report from NFL.com.
Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews was asked about Manziel, his teammate for two years, and whether he thought those criticisms were legit.
"I don't consider him a me-first guy at all," Matthews said. "My whole experience with him and having him as a quarterback [were] nothing but good things. When he was on the field, he was just a tremendous competitor, great leader and someone that I loved playing for. I was glad to have him as a quarterback."
That's great, and all, but Matthews doesn't own a draft pick this spring. But two people who do and could be in a position to draft Manziel (and, frankly, could use a quarterback) — Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman and Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen — had some interesting things to say about Manziel.
For Spielman, his answer was all about football. He said it's pretty obvious what Manziel brings to the field.
"Playmaking ability. That's pretty obvious," Spielman said. "He creates a lot on his own. He has a unique ability to make things happen on the field. Is it traditional? Probably not.
"I think that's what teams will talk about is, looking at his skill set, how is he going to fit in your offensive system, can you adjust your offensive system to fit his skill set ... you don't want to put him in a situation where you know he's not going to be as successful. You have to identify what his strengths are and see if that's what you're trying to do offensively."
So it's important then that he goes to the right team, right?
"I think you have to do that with all players, not him. That's the goal," Spielman said. "If you can adjust your schemes to the specific skill set of that player, he's going to have a better chance at success. If he can't do something and you're asking him to do it, he's going to fail. It's not his fault, it's your fault for taking him because he didn't fit what you were asking him to do."
Allen also gave a football-themed answer, touting Manziel's incredible college performance and his versatile tool belt of skills even as he admittedly hasn't gone deep on the scouting tape with him.
"Obviously he's accomplished a lot at the collegiate level and was a very good football player," Allen said. He was the first [redshirt] freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, and that speaks in and of itself how good of a football player he is.
"I think he's a very talented football player. I think he's a multi-dimensional football player, he's able to throw the ball, and throw the ball from the pocket, but he's also able to create some things with his feet. As we get more into the evaluation process, I think he's going to be a fun guy to really evaluate."
Still, the character issues will persist until NFL teams feel comfy that Manziel has matured and put his social calendar second to football. Matthews reiterated that Manziel has a strong work ethic, although the first part of his quote does read a little unintentionally funny when you think about the quarterback's party-hard reputation.
"Everything I've ever seen him do is all out," Matthews said. "He worked hard at everything he did. When it was time to practice, he would be out there competing just as hard as he would in a game. that's all I ever saw from him, nothing but good things."
- - - - - - -