“Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf?” Believe it or not, that was actually a compelling debate leading up to the 1998 NFL Draft. Though neither player took the field ‘til the following September, a couple post-draft interviews all but settled the debate. When asked what he would do now that he was an NFL quarterback, Manning expressed his eagerness to work with his coaching staff in preparation for the upcoming season. Ryan Leaf? He couldn’t wait to hit up Vegas the next day.
The 2014 NFL Draft doesn’t boast a “Who ya got?” quarterback debate, but it does include Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M standout who creates enough speculation and controversy on his own. There are two sides to the Manziel debate: either you love his athletic ability and outside-the-pocket theatrics, or you write him off because he’s undersized and an unpolished pocket passer.
Or you can just examine his off-field antics and scrap the debate altogether.
Playing quarterback at the pro level requires levels of dedication and focus that Manziel has already proven he lacks. Some worry that Manziel’s too short; I worry that he’s too Hollywood, with friends like rap artist Drake and a seemingly endless string of parties to attend. Some critique his shortcomings as a pocket passer; I scrutinize his maturity, as he spent last offseason badmouthing Texas A&M over Twitter after receiving a parking ticket. And then there’s the fact that he overslept at a Peyton Manning-run football camp last summer, which sends us back to the Manning-Leaf debate.
Except this time, there should be no debate. The Browns made a mistake with Manziel. They took the wrong guy. There may not be a Peyton Manning up for grabs in this year’s draft, but if you’re looking for the biggest bust since Ryan Leaf, keep your eye on Johnny Manziel. And while you’re at it, book him a flight to Vegas.