Zimmer, Turner assess ‘choreographed' Manziel

The Vikings had plenty of eyes on Johnny Manziel Thursday and were scheduled to get a closer look, too. Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner talked about Manziel's pro day and what they saw from the quarterback prospect.

Johnny Manziel appeared with camouflage shorts, but he certainly wasn't trying to hide or blend in Thursday when he took to the field house at the Texas A&M for his pro day.

He was the main act and didn't disappoint. Surrounded by an estimated 75 scouts, eight head coaches and representatives from 30 NFL teams, according to numerous reports, Manziel had what was probably the best – and for sure the oddest – pro day among the top quarterback prospects in the 2014 NFL draft.

The black, gray and white camouflage shorts weren't the only thing that stood out from other traditional, regimented pro days that quarterbacks often present to NFL scouts and coaches in the lead-up to the draft. Manziel also wore shoulder pads and a helmet.

"It's the first time I've ever seen it," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters about the shoulder pads and helmet, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It was a different workout."

Manziel told reporters he put on the pads because that's how football is played. It at least helped separate his pro day from others, as if he needed it.

Manziel was about as sharp as they come in pro days. Although a few of his throws were just slightly off-target, many of his throws – especially a series of deep of passes – produced just the kind of accuracy NFL coaches look for in a quarterback.

"He was impressive. You don't need to see him in a workout to see him throw the ball on the move," Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "He's got a strong arm, and he was amazingly accurate. He did a great job throwing the ball on the move. He showed all the things he needed to show. People who've watched a lot of tape on him are pretty familiar with what he can do. It's good to see a guy in person, though."

But the fact that his pro day, like all of them, was scripted, had the Vikings looking to find out a little bit more on their own. They were scheduled to give Manziel a private workout, reportedly Friday morning, after meeting with him Thursday evening, presumably after he was done meeting with two other teams Thursday afternoon.

That behind-the-scenes and up-close look at a prospect is the Vikings' preferred method. They also met privately with Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles, two of the other top prospects, earlier this month.

"Just (wanting to see) how he carries himself. The different arm strengths, the footwork, how he handles the people, the crowd," Zimmer said of the Vikings scouting process. "This one was a little different in how it was choreographed. People like that or they don't like that, I don't know."

"We're probably going to do something with him … something a little less choreographed. The huddles and the different things and the music, the sideshow stuff – it was a sideshow."

But in between the music, which Manziel reportedly requested a few minutes into the workout, and the huddles, it was a display of accuracy and arm strength.

"It's kind of what we saw on tape," Zimmer said.

Thursday and Friday are a chance for Zimmer to see it live and in person. Whether Zimmer has a chance to see that on a regular basis this summer is now up to pre-draft speculation.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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