The importance of drafting former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel into the right offensive system -- one that can accentuate his athleticism best -- is a drumbeat draft analysts have maintained since the January day the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner announced he was leaving for the NFL.
New Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith could be the right coach, with the right draft pick, and with the right offensive coordinator, to do it. While some NFL coaches might view Russell Wilson's success with the Seattle Seahawks as evidence that the smaller, mobile quarterback has arrived in the NFL, others are holding their verdicts. Smith, however, is moving into the first category, according to tampabay.com.
Manziel caught Smith's eye as the former Bears head coach spent the 2013 season out of football.
"I had time to watch quite a few games, and I had a chance to watch him -- a lot. So you add all that up," Smith said. "As far as how he'll take his game to the NFL level? I think most outstanding players in college, a lot of them, end up being a very good football player in the NFL. Football really is football. I know he's not your typical, prototype quarterback who drops back into the pocket, but there are a lot of quarterbacks doing well in the league that aren't your prototypical quarterback."
The Buccaneers hold the draft's seventh-overall pick. With four clubs picking ahead of the Bucs in need of a quarterback, Manziel might not be available to Smith. But with all four of those clubs reportedly "strongly considering" options other than a quarterback, Manziel could be the right player at the right time for Smith and the Bucs. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford knows how to utilize a moving pocket, and could put Manziel in an advantageous position where his athleticism is concerned.
The need, the fit and the timing could all align.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.