You just knew Johnny Manziel was not going to turn in a forgettable pro day performance.
The highly debated quarterback prospect put on a show for NFL coaches and scouts — and a former president, naturally — that featured a packed house at the Texas A&M facility. There were 75 representatives from 30 of 32 NFL teams in attendance (the Bears and Browns were the lone teams without a rep there), including eight head coaches and eight general managers, according to the school.
Former president George H.W. Bush, who met with Manziel last night, rolled up in a golf cart with his wife, Barbara, to take in the scene. The power and draw of Johnny Football knows no bounds.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) March 27, 2014
— George Bush (@GeorgeHWBush) March 27, 2014
"My main thing was, I am not scared of anything. I don't play that way on the field," Manziel told NFL Network afterward. "Why come out here in a scripted workout and be scared of anything?
"I just wanted to throw the pigskin around and have some fun."
The workout featured Manziel wearing camouflage shorts, high socks, an all-black matte helmet and pads — not your typical pro day garb. There was rap music blaring throughout the workout. George Whitfield, Manziel's personal QB coach, chased him around during the workout with a broom to simulate the long arms of a defender.
The script of 64 throws had Manziel rolling left and right, and dropping back — three, five and seven steps — into the pocket, which are the throws that NFL scouts want to see him making having come from an offense at A&M that is unorthodox by NFL standards.
In addition, Manziel took every throw from center, even calling out the pre-scripted plays, from center. That, too, is a change: Manziel took a grand total of one snap that wasn't in the shotgun last season for the Aggies.
The results were highly successful. He completed 61 of the 64 passes, with two fairly catchable balls hitting the ground, plus one caught by wide receiver Mike Evans — also a top-15 prospect — out of bounds.
"We were striving for perfection," Manziel said. "Little disappointed in that."
Although Manziel frequently had to dry his hands on the center’s towel, he still showed good accuracy by hitting on his first 36 pass attempts.
He even showed a little pizzazz in the process. No shock there.
Johnny did a pistol shoot celebration after 50 yard completion.
— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) March 27, 2014
Manziel also took control of the scene early, showing who was running the show by gathering NFL scouts and explaining the process — a sign of leadership, to some NFL evaluators — and how the workout would go.
It went, by most accounts, very well.
Will this change Manziel's draft position? It might not have a dramatic effect, but his impressive workout might have firmed his place near the top of the first round on May 8.
Size, durability and character questions might still be issues for him. And not every team loves the Hollywood atmosphere that follows Manziel.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 27, 2014
General reax from NFL coaches after Johnny Day: He threw really well, but it was a spectacle. Heard words "Hollywood" and "sideshow."
— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) March 27, 2014
But Manziel thought that this pro day, along with his pre-draft interviews with teams, have shown what he's out to prove.
"I just want [NFL teams] to know that my focus is football," Manziel said. "This is my life, this is what I love to do. I have never been more dedicated or more committed in my entire life.
"I'm 100 percent that way."
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