Once again, Johnny Manziel looks like the maverick.
The confident (some might call it brash) quarterback from Texas A&M might end up being the only top quarterback in the draft that is able to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday and is declining to do so.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said he will wait to see who actually throws before fully investing in other quarterbacks' statements that they will or won't. They can always change their mind leading up to the session, Spielman warned Thursday.
Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Fresno States' Derek Carr, Alabama's A.J. McCarron and Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo are all expected to participate in Sunday's throwing session. Georgia's Aaron Murray still isn't able to because of surgery to repair his torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"I wanted to come out and showcase my talent against the other best quarterbacks in the nation. That's what the Combine is all about," Garoppolo said. "I have been out in Los Angeles training at the API out there and, you know, I've had a couple of different quarterback coaches helping me … just working on my footwork, working on the release and everything, really just fine-tuning everything getting ready for this."
Garoppolo participated in the Senior Bowl last month, but McCarron didn't, whether it was simply a decision he made or because of a rumored (minor) injury that held him back.
"I just felt it was a good choice for myself. I'm healthy. Better than I've ever been," McCarron said. "I know free agent week starts the same time as our pro day. So some teams' coaches and GMs might not be able to come down. So I felt this was the best opportunity to showcase what I've been working on since our last game."
McCarron tweeted his hand size at 10 inches from Friday morning's measurements after reports of Manziel's hands at 9-7/8, Bortles at 9-3/8 and Bridgewater at 9-1/4.
"Everybody kept talking about hand size and they were asking me," McCarron said of his decision to tweet his hand size. "I think I had the biggest one, though. I'm not sure. I don't think anyone else had a 10."
Manziel had the biggest hands of the top three quarterbacks, but his height could be a concern after NFL personnel measured him at 5-foot-11¾ tall.
"I play with a lot of heart, play with a lot of passion. I feel like I play like I'm 10 feet tall," Manziel said. "A measurement to me is just a number."
The biggest questions for Manziel, however, will come in his interviews with NFL teams. There he will be asked repeatedly about his maturity level and a series of questionable judgments.
"Some scrutiny off the field, but continuing to learn, continuing to learn from my mistakes and continuing to grow up," he said. "I have an opportunity now moving into a professional phase. This is life now, this is a job for me. I'm taking it very seriously and I'm really excited about the future."
He was also excited that Tom Brady returned a text that Manziel sent his way. Since then, the two of them have spoken.
On the field, Manziel has a reputation as a scrambler, causing NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock to say Manziel is a cross between Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie.
"I'm looking forward to showing up all the people that are saying that I'm just an improviser," Manziel said. "Feel like I worked extremely hard this year to all-around hone in on my game, so continuing to do that, working out in San Diego, continuing to do that and getting better as a pocket passer and as a quarterback in general."
Ultimately, though, it does rub general managers and coaches the wrong way when a healthy quarterback prospect declines to throw at the Combine. Manziel knows that, and said it was at the advice of his agent, but he said he would make accommodations for scouts and coaches in other ways.
"From what I've told every team, if they want to work me out privately, any throw they want to see me make at my pro day, any interview, any question they want to ask me, any throw they want to see me make at any time, I'm more than willing to do that," he said. "I'll be in a situation March 27 where I'll have Mike Evans and a group of receivers that I'm very comfortable with, very familiar with that I want to give those guys an opportunity to go and show what they can showcase as well. Extremely hard decision for me not to throw here. I'm an extremely competitive person."
Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel are the consensus top three quarterbacks, and Bortles said he never had a doubt he would throw at the Combine.
"My mind was always made up, it was just waiting on the right time to announce it – getting information from a lot of people," he said. "But I want to compete. That's kind of who I am; that's what I want to do. I look forward to doing everything here. That's kind of the way I was brought up and who I am. So throwing really wasn't a question the whole time, it was just a matter of time until we told somebody about it."
Meanwhile, Murray wishes he had the ability to throw at the Combine. Instead, his knee is keeping him from doing that, but he is still ahead of schedule in his recovery and expected to throw at his pro day on April 16.
"I'm pretty much doing everything already, just not full, full speed," he said. "We're continuing to build up, get stronger, get more flexible every day. It feels great, and like I said, by pro day, doctors, myself believe I'll be good to go."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Manziel the maverick quarterback of Combine
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