It officially remains to be seen whether Johnny Manziel will do the expected and leave Texas A&M early for the NFL. There’s little doubt, though, that the quarterback has confidence in his readiness to do so if that’s the path he ultimately takes.
Ahead of the Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday, the reigning winner, who’s a finalist for this year’s award, was asked if he thought he was ready to play at the next level as early as next season.
“In my mind, I think I am,” Manziel said according to Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I feel like I’m playing, for the most part, at a really high level of football. I’m putting the ball where I want it to be and I’m throwing it with a lot of velocity.”
Late last month, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin was quoted as saying Manziel would announce a decision on his playing future prior to the Aggies’ bowl game. Sumlin later clarified those remarks, intimating that decision from the redshirt sophomore wouldn’t come until after A&M’s season was complete.
As for his current timeline for a decision, Burch writes that Manziel “will use ‘the next couple of weeks…’ to huddle with A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, private passing instructor George Whitfield Jr. and others before making his call about calling it a career at A&M.” The Aggies will face Duke in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl; at some point between then and the mid-January deadline for draft-eligible players to declare their intentions, Manziel will make his decision public.
It’s expected that, once Manziel gathers all of the information from those he trusts, the quarterback will officially declare for the April draft. Coming off a season in which, as Burch notes, he tossed more touchdown passes and had a higher completion percentage than in his Heisman-winning debut season — and four more interceptions, to be fair — Manziel is looked upon as the prototypical draft wildcard.
While viewed as a first-round pick by most draftniks, his positioning in that round is wildly varied. One CBSSports.com draft expert has him going No. 4 overall, while SBNation.com sees him at No. 20. Sports Illustrated has him inside the Top 10 at No. 8, while FOXSports.com slots him just outside the Top 10 at No. 11.
Rotoworld‘s Josh Norris, meanwhile, rates Manziel as the No. 28 draft-eligible player. In other words, get ready for some very Tebow-ish debate over the next four months… if Manziel leaves collegiate eligibility on the table, of course.