Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel continues to be a lightning rod for controversy. With an abundance of offseason shenanigans, should NFL teams be concerned about his off-field behavior?
NFL teams more concerned about on-field work ethicNFL teams will do their homework on Johnny Manziel's active nightlife, but they will be more concerned with these two issues: His work ethic and leadership. Those are areas that are crucial to the success of the quarterback position.
Is Johnny spending a lot of extra time studying tape? Is he putting in the extra work on the practice field to improve his footwork and timing? Do his teammates respect him? Those are the questions that NFL teams will look to get answered. If he passes those tests, I don't believe many (if any) teams will be overly concerned with his off-field choices.
Tap the brakes on interrogating Manziel's off-field behaviorNFL teams should certainly investigate Johnny Manziel's background, but I don't believe he deserves any additional scrutiny based on the endless media attention heaped in his direction. Although he has run afoul of the law for a minor transgression, the subsequent acts portrayed in the media are typical adolescent acts conducted by normal 20-year-olds.
Of course, Manziel needs to avoid trouble as a possible NFL prospect and future franchise quarterback candidate, but his conduct shouldn't be viewed in a harsher light unless he repeatedly is in trouble with the law. The advent of social media has changed our access to celebrities and star players. However, every outing doesn't deserve investigation or interrogation. Manziel will need to eventually pass the character test, but his actions don't merit serious concern.
If this keeps up, Manziel's draft-day party could be less festiveThat Johnny Manziel is having a good time during his college years shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, and that doesn't make him any different from his teammates, or for that matter, his classmates. He said as much during SEC Media Days when he answered just about any question about his off-field behavior by admitting he's got some maturing to do, while at the same time insisting he won't live his life hiding from attention and cellphone cameras. Good for him on both fronts.
In a perfect world, he'd get to do the former without having to deal with the latter. At some point during his maturing process, however, Manziel will realize perceptions matter. They shape opinions, right or wrong, in the high offices of NFL clubs that tower far above Manziel's kingdom. On draft day, perceptions make money for some, and lose it for others.
Would Manziel's latest social media appearance at a Texas fraternity party qualify as a red flag with NFL clubs? By itself, no. But when a string of examples collects, and begins to paint a picture of a prospect's personality, you'd better believe NFL clubs take notice. And because salary cap dollars are at stake, they don't just take public information at face value.
They dig deeper, into things that might never make their way to the newspaper, radio, Instagram, or YouTube. And if they don't like what they find, a player's draft-day party can take on a drastically less festive tone long before he ever gets the call he's waiting on.
Those closest to Manziel, for his sake, would be smart to drive that point home as quickly as possible.
Manziel will eventually grow up and be an asset for an NFL teamJohnny Manziel is like a lot of college sophomores -- he does stupid and immature things. The problem is that unlike almost all college sophomores, he lives in the public eye, and what Manziel does and how he acts is news. His immaturity definitely will give teams pause; when you throw in his lack of height and the offense he runs, I have to figure a lot of NFL teams will pass on him.
Thing is, while he is immature, he also is a big-time playmaker in the best league in the nation. He shredded Alabama's talent-laden defense when Texas A&M beat the Tide last season and what he did to Oklahoma has to still give Bob and Mike Stoops nightmares.
With age (usually) comes wisdom, so Manziel eventually will calm down, and the NFL team that grabs him whenever he comes out -- he already has tweeted about getting out of College Station when he is eligible for the 2014 draft, so we might be talking about next May -- will get a good football player.
NFL teams will have other concerns over Manziel's pro potentialWhile the off-field antics of Johnny Manziel have become an easy way to generate clicks and faux outrage, it shouldn't be a major concern to NFL teams. Manziel still has to show he has the arm strength necessary to succeed at the next level and can survive punishment with his lithe build. However, there are two caveats that would and should make his extracurricular activities fair game: If they would indicate Manziel has a substance abuse issue (there is no evidence of one currently) or lacks the commitment to football to be great (again, no indication). Then and only then should it raise red flags.