Manziel's potential draws varying reactions from SEC defenders

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LSU safety Craig Loston agrees that Johnny Manziel was a "great" college player, but he's not willing to say Manziel will be a great pro.

"I don't know if he'll make a great pro because I am not paid to make those decisions, but he has skill," Loston told Yahoo! Sports during Reese's Senior Bowl week.

Yahoo asked six former SEC defenders about Manziel, and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard also was unsure about Manziel at the next level. Hubbard said Texas A&M's offense was "built for him to [improvise] and make plays on the run. I don't know how that will work [in the NFL]." Worth noting is that against Alabama's defense, which has a lot of NFL traits, Manziel threw for 717 yards and seven TDs and rushed for 190 yards in two games and went 1-1 vs. the Tide.

But in two games against LSU, both losses, Manziel was just 45 of 97 (46.4 percent completion rate) for 500 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions. Loston said the Tigers' plan "was to try to keep him in the pocket, make him beat us from the pocket. We did a pretty good job of keeping him bottled up."

Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith was willing to make a different call on Manziel's NFL career: "He's going to be really good at the next level." Smith called Manziel "a playmaker, man. There's no two ways about it. A lot of people talk bad about him, but he's got it. He's got eyes in the back of his head."

Auburn defensive end Dee Ford and Vanderbilt safety Kenny Ladler also were effusive in their praise. Ford said Manziel was the "toughest player I ever faced," while Ladler said Manziel "makes plays that normal quarterbacks usually don't make."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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