When I think of Johnny Manziel, I cannot help but think of his gift for creating spectacular plays in the midst of the most unlikely of circumstances. This rare ability that he displays shows up in just a few individuals who, with their unique physical skills, inspire those blessed to see them play, even long after their careers are over.
I can think of no better example of this gift for creating “spontaneous genius” than Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders. I loved watching him play the game of football. He was a special type of player, who, although rather smaller than the average RB, had more ability to change directions and accelerate than I thought possible. The absolutely beautiful runs he made on a regular basis, I’ve never seen before. And the funny thing about it all, is that I imagine he was just reacting to what was in front of him. Not thinking, just seeing and reacting.
I am not saying Johnny Manziel is going to have a career like Barry Sanders. But what I am suggesting is that I have seen some of what Bill Walsh coined “spontaneous genius” in Manziel’s game. It’s an important, and difficult to teach skill.
There has been plenty of conversation about the factors affecting Manziel’s projection at the next level, primarily his height and impromptu playing style. It is true that Johnny Manziel is not your typical quarterback. And for that reason, he will not likely fit into many NFL offensive schemes. Yet, there is one team in particular that may be an interesting match.
The Oakland Raiders.
Really, since the time of Rich Gannon, the Raiders have not been terribly stable at the quarterback situation. They may or may not be comfortable with letting Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin compete for the spot, leaving it at that. However, should they choose to continue their search they have a valuable resource at their disposal sitting on their coaching staff at this very moment.
Here is where it gets interesting.
Offensive coordinator, Greg Olsen, has coached quarterbacks for seven different NFL and college football teams, one of which was the Purdue Boilermakers. Guess when he was there, and who he coached?
Right when Drew Brees was there!
This is significant because Brees is the prime example of a talented, mobile quarterback overcoming a height issue at the NFL level.
Besides having experience coaching a quarterback who is below the average height, Olsen has been a part of coaching many different schemes over his career. He could tailor his offense to Manziel’s skill set, which would emphasize a more West Coast, short-intermediate route tree, rather than lots of deep shots often seen in the Coryell/Vertical offensive scheme.
It remains to be seen whether the Raiders will hold a top 5 draft pick in April. If they do, selecting Manziel may not make sense from a value standpoint. But often, teams find a player they like and align themselves properly by trading up or down. Perhaps we’ll see a draft day trade for Oakland to get Johnny Manziel.
Do you think Oakland is a good fit for Manziel? If not, which team do you feel is better suited?
One last note, this article marks the 200th post on NFLDraftBlogger.com. Yay! I have enjoyed sharing my love for the draft with you over these years. Thank you very much for your support!