COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- A few things we learned from Johnny Manziel's pro-day workout in front of NFL coaches and scouts:
1. Wearing pads an easy choice
We certainly learned that Manziel isn't afraid to set himself apart, not that he's ever shown otherwise.
While the attire for any other pro-day quarterback is to throw in the comfort of a T-shirt and shorts, Manziel chose to wear a helmet and shoulder pads to give scouts a more realistic look. OK, the camoflauge shorts were a curious choice, but the pads were an attention-grabber, to say the least.
Said his private quarterback coach, George Whitfield: "He said, 'I'm not only going to do this, with all this on the line, but I'm going to double down on it.' Then you come out here and hammer it out of the park? He executed, too. It just wasn't the pads. You can't just get a bonus for the pads. The pads only make an impact if you're able to execute. If we only hit half the throws, it would still be a very bad workout."
2. Convention isn't Manziel's way
There was as much out of the ordinary about Manziel's pro-day workout as there is about his unconventional style of play. And it wasn't just the pads. Manziel chose to play music in the McFerrin Indoor Athletic Center during the workout, also something nowhere to be found in the pro-day playbook, and he briefly addressed top NFL personnel before the workout began. Manziel did things his way from beginning to end. The decision to wear pads was the boldest move, to be sure, one that NFL scouts won't necessarily give him higher marks for, but will have a hard time forgetting just the same. Beyond that, the music was an 11th-hour request by Manziel.
"He's such an energy guy. We went without the music. In training we had it on," coach George Whitfield said. "Today we cut it, and he said, 'Hey, can we turn it on low?' ... I said no problem, this is your show. It was not for show purposes, it was just for a little energy."
"College Station is a little bit of a tricky spot to get to, so I wanted to speak on my behalf and the six guys behind me, and thank them for coming out," Manziel said.
3. Interest was off the charts
Who was at Manziel's pro day? The better question, and easier answer, was 'Who wasn't?' A total of 75 NFL coaches and scouts were on hand, including eight head coaches and eight general managers. The only clubs not represented were the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns, and Browns general manager Ray Farmer saw fit to explain his absence in advance. The media contingent stacked up two and three-deep for the entire width of the field, with dozens of television cameras capturing every pass. ... And of course, former President George H. W. Bush, an Aggies fan, watched from a golf cart along with former First Lady Barbara Bush.
4. O'Brien not the only post-workout meeting for Manziel
A lot has been made of Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien and other Texans brass having dinner with Manziel Thursday night, but he's not the only head coach who will sit down with the quarterback. Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he will meet privately with Manziel as well, as will the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For some, how Manziel handles those conversations may carry more evaluation weight than the workout.
5. Sumlin mum on Zimmer conversation
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer spoke extensively during the workout. After the workout ended, College Football 24/7 asked Sumlin about the substance of the conversation, but the veteran coach wasn't offering any insight into what Zimmer wanted to know about Manziel.
"I was a GA at Washington State for Mike Price, my first job. Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator. We've known each other a long time and I hadn't seen him since he got the (Vikings) job," Sumlin said. "We were just talking about a few things, but yeah, I'm sure Johnny came up in the conversation."
6. Lovie Smith takes notice
"I think most of the guys appreciate coaches coming out, but that may be the first one that started it that way," Smith said. "That's what you want in a quarterback. Some positions, some guys can blend in with the group. A quarterback can't blend in, so you want a guy who can take center stage."
That, Manziel can do.
7. Brooks is sold
Count NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks among those sold on Manziel's pro-day performance. The former NFL scout believes Manziel's pro day was the most impressive of the draft's top three quarterback prospects, over those of UCF's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Brooks' lone criticism was that Manziel didn't show scouts the deep out-route from the opposite hash, one of the toughest throws in football, but he nevertheless sees Manziel being a top-five overall prospect on the value boards of several clubs.
8. Not just the Johnny Show
The day was just as important for former Aggies wide receiver Mike Evans as it was Manziel, given that Evans didn't participate in TAMU's initial pro day, when scouts got to see offensive tackle Jake Matthews work out. There were times when Manziel made Evans look awfully good, but other times when it was Evans making Manziel look his best. The 6-foot-5, 231-pound wide receiver is widely projected to be the second player at his position drafted, behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins. Evans did nothing to damage that status on Thursday.
Two departing comments from NFL Network analysts Kurt Warner and Mike Mayock, who were on hand for the workout, punctuated Manziel's day both in terms of his physical skill and his mental toughness:
Warner: "He showed us he can make all the throws. That deep ball was impeccable. Great touch, good enough velocity and was able to set it out there."
Mayock: "I think (Manziel) loves competition. He lights up like a Christmas tree with all these GMs here."