- There was no shortage of buzz about Manziel's decision to wear shoulder pads and a helmet for his pro-day workout, which is probably what was intended from the beginning. Mission accomplished. Did it do anything to boost his draft stock or improve his evaluation for some clubs? Not a chance. But it reinforced that Manziel has a certain fearless edge to him, and after a strong performance, it was an automatic topic of conversation. NFL coaches said they'd never seen it done by a quarterback before for a pro day, so the element of being unprecedented drove it well beyond its real significance. And that is what made it brilliant.
- For once, Manziel wasn't the biggest name in the building on his own pro day. Former President George H.W. Bush, an Aggies fan, was on hand to meet Manziel along with former First Lady Barbara Bush. The night before Manziel took the field, their meeting was captured for a social media photo by Manziel's agent, Erik Burkhardt:
- Prior to pro day, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer essentially said its the off-field questions about Manziel, not the on-field ones, that are where the club's evaluation of the former Texas A&M star will begin. Then during the workout, of all the NFL people on hand, it was Zimmer who was bending Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin's ear the most. He very well could have been picking Sumlin's brain about Manziel's intangibles rather than his talent; his leadership skills and locker-room demeanor, after all, aren't plainly available on film like his footwork and mechanics are. Not to mention, the Vikings plan to bring him in for a private workout, one that Zimmer said will be "less choreographed."
- Manziel found time to horse around on the basketball court in advance of his pro day, and threw down some trick dunks that he posted video of to his Instagram account. Some wondered if the rims were set at 10 feet. Others wondered if it was wise of Manziel to be doing such a thing, from an injury standpoint, so close to his workout for what turned out to be 75 NFL coaches and scouts. Here's what we wonder: The standard NFL contract prohibits players from engaging in activities that could pose risk of personal injury, and the list of things that qualify can vary by club. How extensive will Manziel's list be? We're guessing the scroll will reach the floor.
Two notable reactions to Manziel's pro-day performance on social media:
None other than Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice said Thursday that Manziel reminds him of his former quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, Steve Young. We've heard Manziel compared to everyone from Fran Tarkenton to Doug Flutie, from Russell Wilson to Michael Vick. Just about any quarterback with some scrambling skills who has ever been successful in the NFL (Mark Brunell, anyone?). As such, it was actually a different Rice remark that stood out even more: "... if he can just relax, stay in the pocket, deliver the ball down the field with accuracy and get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, I think it's a no-brainer for the Houston Texans to take this guy."
That's about as high an endorsement as anyone can make. In six weeks, we'll know if Texans general manager Rick Smith agrees.
The branding begins
It didn't take long for Manziel's endorsement deal with Nike to start turning a profit. The apparel company followed the pro-day workout with pro-day gear for sale.
Here's wishing Nike released this line in kids' sizes only. Because the grown man who's got to have Manziel's pro-day gear needs to check himself.
Nuts and bolts
Manziel's pro-day workout lasted for 64 throws, puncuated at the end by a deep completion to Mike Evans. So what did he show NFL coaches the most? The least? We break down the workout here. ... Say what you want about Cleveland Browns GM Ray Farmer's decision not to attend Manziel's pro day, but it was at least smart of him to get in front of any criticism by explaining the decision last week. Still, it's curious that the Brownsdidn't have anyone there. One would think a scout or two, at least, would have been in order.