Make way for Johnny Football in the NFL.
Johnny Manziel, as expected, will enter the 2014 NFL Draft and leave two years of college eligibility on the NCAA table. The Texas A&M star quarterback submitted his name to the NFL for inclusion in the 2014 NFL Draft, according to NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt.
Manziel's Aggies teammate, wide receiver Mike Evans, announced his decision to leave for the NFL through the school on Jan. 2.
NFL rules allow players who are three years removed from high school to enter the draft. Although Manziel played just two seasons at Texas A&M, he redshirted at the school in 2011, giving him the necessary three years away from from his days as a star at Kerrville (Texas) Tivy High School to enter the upcoming draft.
At A&M, Manziel set an SEC single-season record for total offense as a redshirt freshman in 2012 with 5,116 yards, including a league-high 1,410 rushing yards, on the way to becoming the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy. At the time, critics of Manziel's NFL potential pointed to his size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), his unconventional style, his unwillingness to be patient in the pocket, and his offseason reputation as a party animal as negatives.
His rock-star persona had a polarizing effect on fans outside of College Station, although he was embraced by his teammates as an outstanding team player and leader.
In 2013, Manziel's play helped him shed some of those concerns, particularly with his development as a passer and his patience in the pocket. As a result, his rushing production was roughly cut in half, but his passing numbers exceeded his Heisman-winning season with 4,114 yards and 37 touchdown passes. He also, for the first time, began to slide and run out of bounds this season to protect himself physically from taking too many hits from defenses.
Scouts have widely projected Manziel as a first-round draft pick, although speculation on where in the first round he will be chosen has varied. Though his improvements as a passer have been undeniable, he remains loathe to get rid of the ball with a throw out of bounds when a play breaks down, as NFL quarterbacks do, instead using his improvisational style to try to turn a bad play into a spectacular one. That tendency is one that his eventual NFL coach will likely try to reign in.
As for his off-field magnetism, that's likely here to stay.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.