There is no shortage of opinions on both sides of the fence regarding Johnny Manziel's NFL potential, but few, if any, are sitting on it. The former Texas A&M star is reportedly a potential No. 1 overall pick to the Houston Texans, yet few dispute that his unconventional style and electrifying scrambling skills will make for a most trying transition into a pro-style offense that will call for more patience in the pocket than he is accustomed to.
ESPN analyst Merril Hoge put himself squarely on the side of the Manziel doubters in delivering some of the harshest criticism yet for the former Aggies star.
"He has absolutely no instinct or feel for pocket awareness. He has an instinct to run. That's a bad instinct if you're going to have that in the National Football League. You have to play in the pocket with traffic around you and throw it. When traffic comes around him, he runs, and that's dangerous in the National Football League," Hoge said. "His skill set does not transition to the National Football League, and it is a big, big risk. In fact, I see bust written all over him, especially if he's drafted in the first round."
There is little doubt Manziel will be drafted in the first round, particularly with roughly half the teams set to pick in the top 10 in the market for a new starting quarterback. The pre-draft narrative at the quarterback position holds that Manziel, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and UCF's Blake Bortles will be the first three passers selected. Yet, Hoge's criticism brings to mind a weeks-old report that, in spite of Manziel's athletic appeal, more than half of NFL quarterback coaches would prefer Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr to Manziel. And Carr might not even be a first-round pick.
Hoge was critical of Manziel in the areas that quarterback coaches hold dearest: decision-making, accuracy and pocket awareness.
The quarterback coach who, on draft day, is handed the task of molding Manziel into an NFL success might do well to keep some Tylenol handy. Too much excitement can cause headaches.