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Fran Tarkenton: Johnny Manziel can't be great if he's a 'rodent'

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton doesn't have any questions about Johnny Manziel's ability to make plays in the NFL, but making his way in the locker room in a leadership role is another matter.

And as NFL clubs evaluate not only the former Texas A&M star's game film, but his maturity as well, Tarkenton isn't quite sure what they'll find regarding the latter.

"The things that went on last year with him leaving the Manning camp and other activities, I just want to understand that a little better. Everything I've seen of the kid, I love," Tarkenton said, according to USA Today. "... But you've got to make sure. Because there's never been a great quarterback I know of who was a rodent.

"I'd have to spend some time with him. What I've seen him do on the field, he has all the franchise qualities. You look at your great players, they have to be leaders in the clubhouse and off the field. They don't have to be churchgoers. But they have to have character."

Manziel is considered among the draft's top three quarterback prospects, along with Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Less conventional on the field than the other two, and more controversial off it, Manziel will be labeled a high-risk, high-reward draft pick before he even throws his first NFL pass. Convention never got "Scramblin' Fran" Tarkenton anywhere either, however, and Manziel is the closest thing he's seen to, well, Tarkenton.

"Nobody really played like I played. This kid plays like I did more than anybody else," Tarkenton said. "He's the closest thing I've seen to myself. Russell Wilson has some of it. But Manziel has those similarities even more so than Russell. Manziel is a quarterback savant."

That's rodent and savant in the same Manziel commentary, if anyone is scoring.

The circus comes to town May 8.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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