Holler: Manziel makes his case

Johnny Manziel showed why he is a Johnny Football with a big performance New Year's Eve that should get Vikings fans very interested.

Let the record reflect that, regardless of what those of the Mel Kiper/Todd McShay ilk have to say, when Viking Update puts out its first 2014 mock draft in about a month, as of right now, we are linking the Vikings with Johnny Manziel if the quarterback is still available. As things currently stand, the Vikings will pick No. 8 and, as things currently stand, Johnny Football will be available.

After Tuesday's performance in a 52-48 Texas A&M win over Duke, Manziel put as big a stamp on his NFL viability – despite lacking measurables that impacted the draft stock of guys like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson – with his performance both on the field and on the sideline. Given the Disney suits that run ESPN, over the next month, the tag "Instant Classic" will be applied to the game and you will have multiple opportunities to view it if you missed it. It was a rare résumé-builder and made Manziel millions in additional dollars. Everyone knew who he was, but the "experts" kept saying that he's the third or fourth- or fifth-best QB in the 2014 draft.

The funny thing about Manziel's performance is that he showed leadership – imploring A&M fans to stay in the game, as well as his teammates – both on offense and defense. He didn't go Dez Bryant off-the-chain with emotion, but he was working the sidelines as well as the middle of the field.

There have some scouts that claim he is a second-round talent. So were Brees and Brett Favre. They speak to where the risk-reward on a talented young quarterback lies.

What makes Manziel such an attractive option is that, despite playing only two years of college football, there is no player available in the 2014 draft that can sell the future better than a kid named Johnny Football.

Not sure how many butts can be put in the seats by the hiring of a coach in the NFL, unless they have names like Gruden or Cowher. Miami made a living on big tickets like Jimmy and the Tuna, but the reality is that the Vikings are in no position to wine and dine at a time when Siberia came to visit around Thanksgiving and never left. A selling point for any remotely high profile coach? No so much. Oh, by the way, the next two years we're going to play in the same elements where fake coyotes on the field of Winter Park die.

As far as 2013 goes, Al Gore, Minnesotans have a bone to pick with you. A head coach that comes to Minnesota next year is going to expect to wear every single article of clothing the NFL sanctions – from short sleeve polo shirts to Belichick-vintage hoodies to Nanook of the North winter gear for the next two years.

A quarterback who helped build an SEC program from mediocrity to having ground broken on a state-of-the-art facility is a selling point beyond selling points. If the Wilfs want to sell PCLs, the combination of Purple Jesus and Johnny Football would go a long way to keeping the fan base lit up and buying into the long-term future of the team.

As things currently stand, Manziel isn't the ideal quarterback for the 2014 draft. For the Vikings? He changes the playing field from the fan perspective. If Rick Spielman can weigh the red flags against whatever color "good flags" are, Manziel would provide Vikings the bridge between the drag of the elements over the next two years and indoor football that no other player in the draft can provide.

The big question is whether Manziel will still be on the board at No. 8? There's a gauntlet of teams with similar franchise mindsets in front of them. No. 8 may not be high enough to get him anymore.

When VU's first mock draft comes out, Manziel will be the pick. The only question now is whether we have to project a trade up to get him. Above No. 8, he may be considered a reach. To the Vikings, he could be a spark that gets the fans excited. That's a risk worth taking.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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