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Mayock on Johnny Manziel: 'He's a 50/50 shot' in the NFL

A few months from now, a preseason game between two mediocre teams will draw a huge television rating, because one of the quarterbacks taking the field will be Johnny Manziel.

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He's the 2014 NFL Draft's most talked about, most debated and possibly most criticized prospect. Some coaches won't touch him with a 10-foot pole, whereas others are secretly hoping he falls in the draft enough to pick him. Where he winds up remains a mystery until the commissioner calls his name at Radio City Music Hall.

NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has seen all the film and watched Manziel throw in person enough to rank him as the top quarterback in the draft class. Despite putting him in such a position, the analyst still thinks Johnny Football is far from a sure thing in the NFL.

"From my perspective, you have to answer a couple of things both on and off the field. From my perspective, he's a 50/50 shot," Mayock said on "NFL Total Access." "I love the kid and can't wait to watch him play, but he's a 50/50 kid."

Normally, such a statement would take people aback, but in reality Mayock is simply stating what is true for most first-round quarterbacks. For every Troy Aikman, there's a Jeff George. For every Cam Newton, a Blaine Gabbert isn't too far behind.

Manziel -- along with Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater -- is one of four quarterbacks that make up the consensus top-tier of signal-callers in the draft. Given his improvisational skills and less-than-desired height, it's possible he's more predisposed to become a first-round bust than the others, but nobody is denying his sometimes magical abilities to create plays with the ball in his hands.

Some team will fall in love with Manziel and draft him early in the first round, but which one depends quite a bit on what kind of head coach is in charge.

"I think there are two significant issues with Johnny Manziel: one of them is on the field and one of them is off the field," Mayock said. "I've had several head coaches ask, 'Do I want to deal with him off the field on a daily basis for the next five years?' That's real, and that's tangible.

"The second piece of it is on the field," Mayock continued. "If you put the LSU and Missouri tapes on, this kid struggled with a slow rush that didn't let him out of the pocket. Because of that his accuracy and his decision-making went down."

In his mock draft, Mayock has Manziel falling to the Dallas Cowboys with the 16th overall pick. Despite the presence of Tony Romo (and his giant contract), the pick would certainly make for a big splash for Jerry Jones' club. Manziel would have weapons to throw to such as Dez Bryant and a cornerstone left tackle in Tyron Smith, but you would have to wonder how early and how often he would see the field at AT&T Stadium.

Other analysts have the Texas A&M quarterback going to Jacksonville, Cleveland, Minnesota and Tennessee among others.

» Where will Manziel be drafted?

"I think there are some coaches that still prefer that pocket passer that doesn't have issues on or off the field," former NFL coach Steve Mariucci said. "There are some new coaches or young coaches that say, 'Hey, I don't mind being creative and running a little option or moving a guy around.' This is where it's headed."

There is no more intriguing prospect in this year's draft than Manziel, and despite the warnings that he only has a 50/50 shot at succeeding in the NFL, just about everybody around the country is excited to tune in and see him try.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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