Fran Tarkenton has no doubt that Johnny Manziel can play in the NFL
MAR 11, 2014 3:17p ET
There have been no shortage of opinions regarding former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. From analysts saying they wouldn’t take him in the first three rounds, to legends of the game backing his abilities, Manziel has received his fair share of assessments.
The latest to speak on Johnny Football is NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton had the following to say to Jim Corbett of USA Today Sports:
He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to myself. Russell Wilson has some of it. But Manziel has those similarities even more so than Russell.
Manziel is a quarterback savant.
People are going to say, ‘Well, he’s only 5-11¾ tall.’ I wasn’t as big, strong and fast as all these other players. But I knew how to play.
What Manziel has is an instinctive vision. He did it against the toughest level of college football, twice the last two years against Nick Saban’s Alabama defense.
Tarkenton understands that Manziel will have to make adjustments in his game at the next level in order to limit injuries and maximize his potential:
Manziel is not going to be able to run as much at the next level. They had called running plays for him in college. He’s going to have to adjust.
I ran more than any other quarterback in my era by far — buying time for plays, had all these records for rushing. When I broke my leg my 17th season, I was in the pocket.
As far as Manziel’s off-the-field issues from the past year, Tarkenton is reserving judgement. He says that he’d have to spend some time with the Texas gunslinger in order to better understand him as a person:
The things that went on last year with him leaving the Manning camp and other activities, I just want to understand that a little better. Everything I’ve seen of the kid, I love. …
But you’ve got to make sure. Because there’s never been a great quarterback I know of who was a rodent.
I’d have to spend some time with him. What I’ve seen him do on the field, he has all the franchise qualities. You look at your great players, they have to be leaders in the clubhouse and off the field. They don’t have to be churchgoers. But they have to have character.
Whether NFL scouts share Tarkenton’s opinions remains to be seen. It won’t be long until all of these debates on Johnny Manziel have been answered.