Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel could find himself in the background Saturday night during the Heisman Trophy presentation, but he's never out of the spotlight for long.
An official announcement from Manziel on his intentions for the 2014 draft could be the next big piece of news for the reigning Heisman winner. If he decides to declare early eligibility, as expected, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah doesn't see any QB prospect outperforming Manziel in two key areas scouts assess.
"You talk about instincts and playmaking ability -- I've never evaluated anybody at the quarterback position better in those factors," Jeremiah said this week on Fox Sports' Peter Schrager Podcast. "... He's the most creative quarterback playmaker that I've scouted in 10 years."
Schrager said he heard from NFL sources in recent weeks that said they "wouldn't touch" Manziel after watching him struggle in consecutive losses to LSU and Missouri to close the regular season.
Manziel appeared to wear down, adding to the skepticism about whether he'll be able to hold up physically in the pros. Jeremiah acknowledged durability is a bit of a concern, but not enough to seriously downgrade Manziel as a prospect.
"Here's the question I pose any time I talk to a personnel guy and they're lukewarm on him or they're kind of a doubter. I say, 'OK, let me just ask you this question: ... If I told you right now your life is on the line, you have the ball on your own 20-yard line, there's two minutes and you have to go score a touchdown and you could have any quarterback in college football, who would you take for that?'" Jeremiah said. "I also say, 'It's fourth-and-seven. Same deal. High stakes. You can take any quarterback (in college football) on fourth-and-seven, who would you take?'
"I haven't got anybody to tell me they wouldn't take this kid."
The debate continues about whether Manziel's ability to make big plays at any moment trumps concerns about his size, demeanor and leadership ability, and that discussion could play out over again among NFL decision makers in the months to come.
Manziel might not fit some places, but, as Jeremiah indicates, the team that passes on him might not get another chance to draft a talent like his for a long time.