THIBODAUX, La. -- With victories at both the Elite 11 Counselor Challenge and the Air-It-Out Challenge at the Manning Passing Academy, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion served notice Saturday night that his talent can beat out the nation's top college passers in the sweltering July heat of the Bayou as easily as it did in his home state of Oregon days earlier.
But NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks sees something more than a skill set well-suited for an accuracy contest. He sees a polished veteran well-suited for the next level.
"He might be the most pro-ready of the senior quarterbacks. Part of it is just the fact that he is playing in a pro-style system," Brooks said. "His arm, he can make all the throws. He really understands how to get through his progressions from his primary, to his secondary, to his third read. Because he's played under (Oregon State head coach) Mike Riley, at the next level, the verbage and all the things that come that give some quarterbacks problems, he should be able to understand that."
However, Mannion, who decided to return for his senior season after being projected as a third-round pick by the NFL Draft Advisory Board, knows the real proving grounds aren't at a skills challenge, in a T-shirt with no defenses to read. They'll instead be at Reser Stadium this fall, in full pads, with games on the line.
"I need to keep working on accuracy, and keep working on my decision-making. If I can be accurate and throw on time, and improve footwork, I'll be a better player," Mannion said Friday.
As for the lanky, 6-foot-5 Mannion's elongated delivery, Brooks said it is of little concern.
"People talk about the wind-up being a little long and extended. But as you bring your eyes down to his feet, he always throws from a balanced set-up," Brooks said. "Even though it may appear his delivery is long, it comes out with so much pace, it more than makes up for it. It's not a long wind-up like a Byron Leftwich. I think he can get away with it. For some (quarterbacks), everyone would want to tweak it, but from an arm-talent standpoint, he's fine."
Although Mannion plays in a pro-style offense, he totaled a whopping 603 pass attempts last season for the Beavers, completing 400 of them for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns. He threw 11 interceptions in his last four regular-season games, however, as the Beavers dropped five consecutive Pac-12 contests to close out the season.