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Johnny Manziel is working hard to distance himself from Johnny Football. The famous/infamous Texas A&M quarterback created some separation from his alter ego during a Friday press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine. He’ll continue that effort in private meetings with individual teams in an attempt to quash his reputation as a brash, cocky, rule-bending personality.
“Johnny Manziel is a guy from Kerrville, Texas, a small town of 20,000 people,” Manziel told reporters on hand. “You can get lost in that people make me out to be some big Hollywood guy when, really, I’m still a small-town kid. Sometimes you get caught up in certain things, but I’m continuing to learn and continuing to adapt to everything that’s going on in my life. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but continuing to be who I’ve always been is a big thing for me."
Whether teams buy in or not is another matter. As a club in need of a franchise quarterback of character, the Raiders will follow this matter closely. Manziel could be off the board or the last top-tier quarterback available at No. 5 overall, and the Raiders must feel confident that the playmaker will be a proud face of the franchise
They must also be sure he can survive at the NFL level despite measuring less than 6 feet and being known as a mobile quarterback. His college tape is clearly impressive. The kid won a Heisman Trophy as a freshman and was 20-6 in his college career.
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He’s a winner and has consistently performed well in the clutch. Like every other team, the Raiders are still gathering information on Manziel prior to a crucial decision in the upcoming draft.
“He’s accomplished a lot at the collegiate level, being the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy. That speaks to how good a football player he is,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “I think he’s very talented and is a multi-dimensional player in that he’s able to throw the ball from the pocket and he can create things with his feet. As we get more into the process, he’ll be a fun guy to be able to evaluate.”
Manziel’s talent is intriguing. That’s of little debate. He can run and throw and elude and create with ease. Whether millions in the checking account will prove a distraction is uncertain, especially considering his well-documented off-field exploits occurred when he wasn’t flush with cash.
“When I made the decision to turn professional, it marked a time to put my college years in the past,” Manziel said. “This is a job now. There are guys with families and coaches who all have jobs on the line. For me, it won’t be a hard thing to kick. I’m extremely focused on joining an organization and being focused on football 24/7.”
He’s put in hard time with quarterback coach to the stars George Whitfield in San Diego during the offseason. Manziel insists he’s an improved pocket passer and a better all-around player than he was in college.
He insists that he’s more mature, ready to give hope to a downtrodden fan base in need of a fresh face. Whether it’s real or PR spin to secure the highest-possible draft slot hasn’t been determined. It’s clear the Manziel is saying all the right things in an attempt to cleanse his image.
“I feel like a play with a lot of heart and a lot of passion that is unrivaled,” Manziel said. “It’s the way I was brought up, they way I was taught.
“(During the pre-draft process) I’m going to be myself. There’s nothing I can do to change that. What’s on film will speak volumes, and the interviews will give teams a chance to get to know me personally and ask whatever they want. I’m not shying away from anything they ask me.”