Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote a piece about watching video of Manziel from 2013 against Alabama and LSU with "five of the smartest quarterback people I know:" Duke coach David Cutcliffe, former NFL quarterbacks Doug Flutie and Rich Gannon, former NFL head coach Mike Holmgren and former NFL offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
"Each liked what he saw, to differing degrees," King wrote. "Flutie, predictably, would take Manziel high in the May 8 draft. Gannon, bothered by Manziel's sloppy mechanics, wouldn't take him high but thinks he's an intriguing prospect. Holmgren thinks he's a long shot to be a top NFL player. Gilbride does as well, but Gilbride thinks the right mechanic could fix Manziel's flaws and make him a very good player."
Here is a sampling of quotes from the story:
Holmgren: "I think (long-term success) is a long shot. When he makes plays, he's most effective moving, scrambling, gets a little lucky, and then he's got a lot of those throws that most guys can make. When he has to really throw the ball accurately, I just didn't think he threw the ball well enough."
Gannon: "He needs to go somewhere where you've got a great quarterback coach and a great coordinator, and they're really going to drill him on footwork -- a guy like Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, somebody who's going coach the crap out of him on how to play in the pocket. You hope he goes somewhere and gets a chance to thrive, as opposed to Jacksonville or somewhere where he's got to be that guy and carry a team when he's not ready to do that yet. (Jaguars offensive coordinator) Jedd Fisch is not a guy who's going to take out the whip and crack it. He's not that guy. Johnny needs a guy who's not going to be his buddy -- who's going to be his coach. This guy needs tight reins."
Flutie: "Sometimes he just trusts his athleticism too much. You can't just run around and make plays in the NFL. It doesn't happen. The field is too small, given the speed and size of the players. I found that out. But in the NFL, are you going to get away from those D-linemen? Are you going to get away from those linebackers who are faster than you? In the NFL, you can't always rely on athleticism."
Cutcliffe: "You can tell he's smart. You train a quarterback from the neck up and the neck down. The neck down is all those mechanics and things that have to happen mindlessly. ... He's got a little issue mechanically, but he's using his eyes and his mind really well."
Gannon: "You talk to the people in Pittsburgh about Ben Roethlisberger. Mike Tomlin says, There's gonna be three or four plays every game where he runs around and makes six guys miss and then gets sacked and loses 10 yards. But we have to tolerate because of the couple times a game where he does that and he throws for a 70-yard touchdown. That's who he is. You're going to have to take some negative plays because that's who he is. You can't take that natural instinct away from him."
Gilbride: "His mechanics are awful. It's hard not to be influenced by the things you've heard, that the problem is lack of discipline. That manifests itself off the field and in the way he plays."
Cutcliffe: "Out of the pocket, that's where he manages to get the job done. Again, his knowledge, his vision is what impressed me in person against our defense (in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to end the 2013 season). He knew what we were doing and where to go with the ball. And his suddenness. He's not having to do a whole lot with his lower body to throw that thing incredibly well with velocity. That's just what I saw in person in the bowl game. I could not believe his ability to just snap it off and get it out there in a hurry -- with accuracy and with velocity."
Flutie: "He can make every throw, and I don't know every NFL offense from top to bottom, but just put him in the shotgun and spread the field out and let him play. You've got to find a way to let him play."
Holmgren: "Everyone's saying, 'Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson' (as a comparison because of the lack of height). ... . If you say, 'Well, now because of Russell Wilson, we should draft 5-11 quarterbacks' -- well, Wilson is so special in other areas that allow him to do that. Plus their defense is so good. Plus their kicking game is good. Plus they have Marshawn Lynch. So it all fits that way for him."
Gilbride: "I'd rather have the guy who takes a shot than the guy who's afraid to take a chance. He ain't afraid to take a chance. Those are the guys who win. It's nice to have a guy who can solve problems. It's nice when you can solve them with your feet. It gives him a solution to difficulties that guys who can't run don't have. It can't be the only solution, or the team will never be good."
Gannon: "He has the ability to avoid the rush, and create, and improvise. I like that in a quarterback. That's the one thing when I watch this tape that gets me excited about Johnny Manziel. I like the fact that he can make something out of nothing. I like the fact that he can avoid the rush. I like the fact that he can keep plays alive. Those are all good things."
Cutcliffe: "Can he make it? Yes. Will he? Has a lot to do with all the 'X' factors -- where he lands, the system he's in, who's coaching him, his commitment and willingness to continue to improve."
Flutie: "I hope they don't take the fun out of the game for him."