A Vote for Johnny Football

Jan 10, 2014 -- 11:06am

I’ve never tried to pass myself off as some kind of super football scout. I’m certainly not an expert when it comes to footwork, fluid hips, quick releases, pad level and other traits that are said to help determine a player’s future performance.

Who I am is a guy who has closely watched football for more than 50 years and done so professionally without a rooting interest. I like to think I can tell the difference between great players, good players, average players and bad players. The tricky part is trying to judge how players will respond when the level of competition rises.

More often than not I’ve found great players make the right adjustments when they go from one level to the next regardless of the nuances of technique and style.

So what’s my point? I think Johnny Manziel is a good bet to be an outstanding NFL quarterback. And, yes, if I was calling the shots for the Jaguars I’d draft him with the No. 3 pick.

That, of course, puts me in the minority. The majority of so-called NFL experts leave you with impression that Manziel is a bust waiting to happen. He’s too short at 6-foot-1. He instinctively runs too much and will never hold up physically. He lacks the personal discipline to succeed. He has character flaws.

Let me get this off my chest right now. I agree it’s great if you have a quarterback who’s 6-foot-5, but the notion that height allows QB to see over linemen is outdated. Today’s linemen are so tall that all QBs must throw between them, not over them. And, yes, QBs who run a lot are susceptible to injury, but most QBs are injured standing in the pocket.

Drafting any player is a gamble. History proves that. Scouting players is clearly an unscientific process. Obviously height, weight, quickness, flexibility, strength and work ethic are all important factors. But so are competitive spirit and instincts – and past performance.

The scouting process these days starts with finding an athlete’s flaws instead of his strengths. That seems backward to me. I start with how well a player has performed. I looked at how well he has produced in the clutch.

When I look at Manziel I see a lot more positives than negatives. I see a dynamic athlete who is at his best when the lights are the brightest.

And when I picture Johnny Football in a Jaguars uniform I can’t stop smiling.

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