The only thing made clear about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's draft status in the wake of his record-breaking performance in a home loss to Alabama is that nothing is clear at all.
Scouts' evaluations of Manziel's 464-yard passing day weren't hard to find this week, to be sure. But the polarization of scouting opinions on Manziel has been no less extreme than the polarization of public opinion on his character.
And that's just with on-field criteria. Opinions of Manziel's maturity and makeup are certainly all over the board, as well, and will certainly continue to evolve over time. And even how much the personality end of an evaluation matters varies by club.
The grades that NFL clubs place on a given prospect are, usually, relatively similar. A one-round difference may be all that separates a player's evaluation in the eyes of a large majority of teams. But if the feedback on Manziel becoming public is any indication, he would figure to be the rare exception -- a player who is seen as a true prize by some clubs and a bust-in-waiting by others.
Then, there is the ever-present possibility of gamesmanship among these scouts and front office types, as well. Clubs that love a prospect sandbag their interest and do what they can to make sure they player they want falls to their pick. Those that don't like a prospect might leak word of high interest. Smokescreen City. It certainly seems to go on in the weeks prior to the draft, but is it ever too early?
Even if that dynamic were in play, however, the wild variance of opinions would still suggest a complete lack of consensus where Manziel is concerned. If they're all smoke-screening, that means they all still disagree.
If Manziel decides he is finished with college after the season, his draft stock from club to club may be in much closer alignment by next spring as the draft approaches. By that time, he would presumably have played another 10 or 11 football games, been through the NFL Scouting Combine, perhaps an on-campus Pro Day, and any number of private meetings and workouts for any club with an interest.
For now, however, it appears the beauty of Manziel's game remains in the eye of the beholder.
And the beholders who matter apparently are not seeing the same things.