Why being compared to Steve Young is bad for Johnny Manziel

Posted: March 29, 2014 in Draft, NFL, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Johnny Manziel has seen his stock rise from a number of draft analysts following an impressive performance at Texas A&M’s pro day, and that has the media outlets buzzing about his potential. Specifically, Manziel has drawn what seems like high praise from two very respected names in the world of football. Former Head Coach and QB Guru Jon Gruden, and Hall of Fame Receiver Jerry Rice have both compared Manziel to hall of fame QB and Super Bowl champion Steve Young. Why do I say that only seems like high praise? Well, because they aren’t comparing Manziel to the finished product, but rather the fresh out of BYU brimming with potential Steve Young who saw his professional career begin in the USFL, before being picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a supplemental draft. It always seems to be lost in the legend, at least to the casual fan, but Steve Young was not an overnight success. Young had a record of 3-16 as a starter in two years with a struggling Buccaneers squad before being traded to the 49ers where he would serve as Joe Montana’s back-up for a few years before claiming the starting job.

For what it’s worth I think the comparisons are accurate. Manziel is a few inches shorter shorter than Young, but both were considered undersized and used their legs to get out of trouble often. Young didn’t become a truly great QB until he learned to throw from the pocket, and it’s no secret that Manziel will have to do the same. There is a lot of potential and raw talent in Manziel, but the trouble with any team drafting him in the first round, particularly in the top 10 is that there will be pressure to start him right away and that could be a mistake. Teams need to be willing to take the Aaron Rodgers approach to Manziel, let him learn from the sideline for a bit. Or, if the talent is just too tantalizing, at least settle for a Russell Wilson approach, let him come in and compete for a job, just don’t feel pressure to make him the day one starter if he’s not coming along as quickly as you hoped.

The NFL is littered with draft picks who were rushed into a bad situation and suffered because of it. The Jaguars Blaine Gabbert serves as the most recent glaring example. Gabbert had all the physical tools to succeed, but coming from a spread offense had trouble picking up blitzes. Given a year on the sidelines to study and adjust he may have learned enough to protect himself. Instead he was rushed into the starting line-up and a porous O-Line mixed with a tendency to hold on to the ball too long lead to sack after sack. Gabbert never looked comfortable in the pocket after that…something the 49ers are hoping to fix this season after acquiring the passer for a late round pick.

In short, if Manziel really is the next coming of Steve Young it’s not the Jaguars, Texans, or Browns that should be looking at him, but rather the Saints, Patriots and Manziel’s childhood favorite team the Cowboys that should be looking to Manziel as a Superstar to be groomed behind an aging franchise QB.

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