Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:
Scouts liken Sean Mannion’s tall frame and build to that of Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, but also recognize that he does not possess the rifle-arm that the Ravens’ star displays. He is the type of player better in a ball controlled offense where he can move the chains, rather than rely on the big play to ignite the offense. He compensates for a lack of NFL-caliber arm strength with very good accuracy, touch and anticipation.
Mannion has just marginal quickness moving back from center, but he comes to balance with his stance to stand tall in the pocket. He needs to do a better job of protecting the ball, having recorded 27 fumbles in 43 starting assignments. Facing heavy pressure due to poor pocket protection, along with his lack of mobility, he has been sacked a total of 99 times for losses of 809 yards since suiting up for the Beavers. He has also seen the opposition defend 311 of his 1,838 pass attempts (16.92%, 54 interceptions and 257 pass deflections).
Mannion recognizes that he lacks the zip needed to consistently fire the ball down the field, but his pass completion percentage of .6458 (seventh-best among quarterbacks returning in 2014 at the major college level) prove that he has the functional strength needed to consistently make the short- and medium throws, along with showing enough touch to stick the ball in tight areas.
Even with a nation-high 54 interceptions thrown, Mannion had slightly improved his awareness skills and settled down as a senior, as his eight interceptions in 2014 was the lowest total for any season he had at OSU. He seems to understand that it is better to throw the ball away when his targets are covered, but he still will go through stretches where he will check down too early, resulting in costly turnovers. He also must show a better feel for pocket pressure and try to do a better job stepping up or rolling out.
The decision to go with Mannion helped the Beavers earn back-to-back postseason appearances prior to his final campaign. Entering the 2014 schedule, few returning signal-callers boasted the “body of work” that Mannion had produced. He closed out his career ranked seventh in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision with 1,187 pass completions, securing the eighth spot all-time with 13,604 aerial yards.
Mannion started all three seasons he played on the gridiron, playing for his father, John, earning Prep Star All-Region, first-team Contra Costa Times All-East Bay and second-team San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro honors as a senior, after he threw for 3,521 yards and 27 touchdowns, adding three more scores as a ball carrier. He set the Northern California prep record with 581 yards passing and five touchdowns in a November game, leading Foothill to the Northern California CIF playoffs after capturing All-East Bay League honors in 2009.
The previous season, Mannion paced the team to a 9-3 record in 2008, as the junior picked up All-East Bay League and All-Metro recognition. That season, he completed 167-of-307 passes for 2,608 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions, leading the team to the CIF Northern California Division I semi-finals. He also lettered as a pitcher for the baseball team during his junior and senior seasons, in addition to competing as a center for the basketball squad as a senior.
Mannion was recruited by Oregon State offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, signing his national letter-of-intent to attend the university on June 18th, 2009. He graduated from high school with a 3.22 grade point average, but would spend the 2010 campaign serving on the scout team as a red-shirt.
Named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association, Mannion moved into the starting lineup in Week Three vs. UCLA, as he attempted 473 passes, placing second on the school season-record list with 305 completions, generating 3,332 yards, the fourth-best total by a Beavers passer. He threw sixteen touchdowns, but had eighteen interceptions during a 3-9 2011 campaign. He also placed third on the school record chart with 3,140 yards in total offense.
A left knee injury early in the 2012 schedule limited Mannion to eight starts in ten games. He managed to hit on 200-of-309 throws for 2,446 yards, fifteen touchdowns and thirteen interceptions. He tallied 2,361 total yards, but fumbled five times on twelve sacks for losses that totaled 89 yards.
With his sophomore season injury woes in the “rear view mirror,” Mannion set school season-records as a junior, completing 400 passes (603 attempts) for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also established a new record with 4,439 yards in total offense and was responsible for 37 touchdowns. He was still intercepted fifteen times and 25 sacks for losses of 212 yards led to the quarterback turning the ball over twice on seven fumbles.
The 2014 season saw the senior set the Pac-12 Conference all-time record with 13,604 yards passing for a career, but his senior campaign left a lot to be desired. Entering the season, he was rated the top senior quarterback in the nation, but after managing 3,164 yards with fifteen touchdowns and eight interceptions on 282-of-453 passes (62.25%), the tarnish appeared on his pro resume.
The biggest concern is Mannion’s lack of mobility, resulting in him getting sacked 36 times for losses of 302 yards. In each of the twelve games he started, the senior was held to minus yards rushing. He fumbled the ball seven times and even though he recorded a career-low eight interceptions, he had 55-of-453 passes defended (12.14%; eight pass thefts, 47 pass deflections).
While Mannion lacks foot speed to be a running threat, he does demonstrate adequate quickness when he drops and sets up, but he appears to lumber on the move and fails to bring his feet forward sometimes when stepping up in the pocket (lead-foot). He has good upper body mechanics to follow through, but tends to get too methodical in his drop from center to his throwing point.
The Beavers quarterback does not show the body control to throw on the run and needs to show consistency and maintain balance in order to be ready to unleash the ball in time. Once he gets to his throwing point, he is quick to deliver. While he has a quick release, it is really not anything special. He carries the ball chest-high and plants well to throw, showing adequate quickness to unload the ball, though.
Mannion sometimes uses a ¾ arm motion, but has the wrist flick to get the ball out nicely. His smooth motion and good mechanics compensate for his lack of foot speed. He will generally throw over the top, generating a good wind-up motion, but will show a bit of a long arc on deep tosses.
Mannion can zip the short tosses and drive the ball well in the intermediate area. He can also flick the ball long, but has a long arc that lets the defenders settle under his pass to make the interception. He doesn’t appear to struggle throwing any of his passes, but needs to use better judgment.
Most of his tosses come out with good ball speed, but there is doubt he can go deep, as the long ball tends to sail away from his targets and he needs to be more aware of the defensive coverage. Based on his 27 fumbles and 54 interceptions, he might not have the great field vision teams expect from their starting quarterback.
Mannion tends to lock on to his primary target and consequently, he might not see the defenders, especially when he simply throws right into the coverage. It is not like he forces the ball rather than take a sack, as defenders have sacked him 99 times for losses totaling 809 yards.
I really question his overall vision, especially throwing to the right side of the field, where most of his interceptions and passes deflected occur. Mannion generally shows good poise in the pocket, but while he doesn’t panic, his high amount of turnovers is proof that he will force the action when pressured. He can be strong standing in the pocket, as he’s not easy to knock down, but needs to show calmer feet, as he is no threat to make the plays when on the move.
What does impress NFL teams are his size and that he is strictly a pro-style pocket passer, more so the result of his lack of foot speed than by design. His patience under pressure has seen him set school records for pass yards (13,604), touchdowns (83) and accuracy (pass completion percentage of .6458). Thanks to his height, he has no problem scanning the field – he just needs to make better decisions on where to go with the football.
Mannion has more room for frame development, but he is very proficient in the three- and five-step passing game as well as play-action. He’s just an adequate athlete for the position, at best, and needs to be on time and protected. He does show consistent drop speed and footwork away from center and nice timing and anticipation for when and where to go with the ball when he’s giving time to let the play develop.
When his protection does not break down, Mannion can really zip the ball to intermediate areas of the field when he needs to and has shown the ability to drive the ball vertically with good power and accuracy. He also shows touch, as he can change ball speeds and throw a very catchable football. Proper pass protection also allows him to do a nice job of leading receivers and putting the ball where only his intended target can get to it.
While Mannion is capable of making a variety of throws that are necessary at the next level, the end result (interceptions and fumbles) is what he needs to be focused on. He carries the ball a bit low and has a loose delivery. Although quick, his release is not always compact. He isn't going to create many second chances or run from his position.
Sean Mannion NFL Scouting Combine measurable
6-6/229 (5.14 forty)
33 1/2-inch arm length
31-inch vertical jump
105-inch broad jump
7.29 3 cone drill
4.39 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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