John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Johnny Football has his pro day on Thursday. (John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

The State of Manziel

So the long awaited pro day workout for Johnny Manziel will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. in College Station, on the Texas A&M campus. It will be a scripted 50- to 60-pass workout designed and run by Manziel’s personal quarterback coach, George Whitfield. Manziel will have four familiar receivers: college mates Mike Evans (himself a likely first-round pick), Travis Labhart, Ben Malena and Derel Walker. Because of the wide disparity of opinions around the NFL (including those among opinion-swayers in the media) about Manziel, this is probably the single most important workout any player will have before the May draft.

Manziel returned to Texas on Thursday. He’ll gather with Whitfield and the receivers and go through two or three dry runs of the script between now and late Wednesday, so when Thursday comes Manziel will know exactly what’s coming—as if he doesn’t already.

“It’s going to come down a cold, isolated execution of a workout the NFL wants to see,” said Whitfield.

Whitfield’s goal for Manziel’s pro day is to have him take a snap from center and drop back as though he’s been doing it for years, even though he was mostly a shotgun quarterback for his seven high school and college seasons. Usually, a workout shows NFL scouts and coaches what a player is going to have to do in the NFL, but it isn’t always that way.

No matter how good a day Manziel has on Thursday, there still will be questions about his ability to operate in an NFL pocket until he proves himself against a pass rush.

Two years ago, Andrew Luck went to great pains to show teams at his pro day that he was more mobile than he was perceived to be. Similarly, Manziel will throw more than half of his attempts from the pocket, because anyone who’s watched tape of him understands how good he is at improvising and throwing on the run.

But no matter how good a day Manziel has on Thursday, with no defenders on the field, there still will be questions about his ability to operate in an NFL pocket until he proves himself against a pass rush. Most often in college, Manziel took off instead of taking a quick read of the defense and firing an accurate throw from the pocket when faced with pressure. “For better or worse,” said the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock on Friday, “what he needs to show the NFL, he can’t show in shorts and a T-shirt, and he won’t be able to show until training camp. I’m guessing the throws he needs to make from the pocket he’ll make on Thursday. People will want to see his arm strength and his accuracy from the pocket.”

We’re really in a fascinating time, 45 days out from the first day of the draft. We’ve gone from feeling it’s a sure thing that the top three quarterbacks—Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Manziel—are locks to be picked in the top eight to wondering if one or more of them could plummet to late in the first round, or out of it. Bridgewater’s workout was surprising last week because the ball didn’t come out of his hand with the kind of velocity NFL teams hoped to see. Bortles did well in his workout, but his deep balls weren’t accurate. Manziel goes third, in front of some skeptical NFL coaches and scouts, with a drumbeat of negativity growing louder in the backdrop. Last week, respected ESPN tapehead Merril Hoge said Manziel “has absolutely no instinct or feel for pocket awareness. When traffic comes around him, he runs, and that’s dangerous in the NFL.”

John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Though mobile QBs have found a home in the NFL, Manziel must prove himself in the pocket to impress teams at the top of the draft. (John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

Mayock seems wary as well, but he’s also open to the seductive powers of Manziel’s playmaking ability, a trait that few quarterbacks on any level can match. “I’m a big believer in playmakers,” Mayock said. “Last year, I didn’t know how good Russell Wilson would be—and [in 2012] I didn’t know where he’d be drafted. But I did know he was like a basketball player in the gym, and when you’re picking teams, you want him on your team because you know your team will be winning all day and never have to leave the floor. It’s the same with Johnny.”

So now it’s up to Manziel to see where he fits in this draft, with so many teams at the top of the draft needing a passer, and so many that are unsure if they can trust the confident 5-11 7/8 kid with the keys to their franchise. And it’s up to Whitfield to orchestrate the show on Thursday.

“We are where we set out to be,” Whitfield told me over the weekend. “For a quarterback who took the majority of his snaps in high school from the shotgun and the majority of his snaps in college from the shotgun, he had a lot of work to do. But now five- and seven-step drops are routine for him. He can drop with his eyes closed, on grass, on turf, at full speed, at slow speed. He’s got it down. I feel the responsibility is owed to those evaluating you, to answer the perceptions people have for him. That is job one Thursday.

“This day is very important for Johnny. With him, you’ve got people saying he’s purely an improviser and has no business playing on Sundays. In this workout, he can go verify or validate a skill set he’ll need in the NFL. That’s important. I think he’s done a good job of increasing his power throwing the football. He knows at the next level he has to be able to contest the game’s best corner on the perimeter. And he is going to have throw competitive balls in the middle of the field.”

It’ll be must-see TV on Thursday, Manziel from the pocket.

* * *

Someone Smarter Than Me Must Explain This

Blaine Gabbert was traded on March 11 from the Jags to the 49ers for a sixth-round pick.

Matt Schaub was traded on Friday from Houston to Oakland for a sixth-round pick.

Their career stat lines:

  Age W-L Comp. % TD-Int. Rating Approx. Pick*
Matt Schaub 32 46-44 64.0 130-84 89.9 171
Blaine Gabbert 24 5-22 53.3 22-24 66.4 195
 
* Approximate Pick is the estimated pick, based on similar drafting positions in 2013, that the Raiders surrendered to get Schaub and the Niners gave up to get Gabbert.
 

I’d be worried about Schaub, a lot, because last season it looked like he had Steve Sax disease—it appeared he was aiming many of his throws, and his decision-making was way off compared to his history. But the stunner in this comparison is not really the sixth-round pick the Texans got for a quarterback who hit a wall so smashingly in 2013. It’s that Jacksonville GM David Caldwell got anything at all for Gabbert. Lucky for him, San Francisco sees something in Gabbert that GM Trent Baalke thinks his coaching staff can salvage.

* * *

Jim Kelly Has a Lot of Friends in Buffalo

That might be the most understated line of the year. “I’ve never met anyone in life who cuts a wider swath across racial, social, age and gender lines than Jim,” Kelly’s friend and former Bills teammate Steve Tasker said over the weekend. “The support group he has right now, including people who weren’t born until 10 years after Jim retired, is absolutely unbelievable. He’s beloved in Buffalo.”

jim-kelly-360-the-mmqbKelly, 54, is fighting a recurrence of the cancer that struck his jaw in 2013, a cancer he thought he’d beaten after part of his upper jaw was removed. His wife and two daughters have been blogging and posting photos to Instagram and Twitter and urging friends and strangers alike to pray for Jim. “The cancer’s back, aggressive, and starting to spread,” his wife, Jill, blogged. On Friday, the student body of a Buffalo elementary school lined up in the shape of a heart to send its love to Kelly. Also on Friday, three Bills’ Hall of Famers—Bruce Smith, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas—gathered at Kelly’s house to lift his spirits.

Tasker has also visited Kelly. They worked together doing a weekly football talk show last fall, and Kelly told Tasker he was cancer-free. But earlier this month, Kelly acknowledged it was back, and apparently it’s taking a heavier toll than the first fight last year.

“This is not a common cold,” Tasker said. “He is loaded for another fight, and he is going to fight it hard. I don’t want to give the impression that this is catastrophic because it’s not. But it’s going to be a tough fight. Jim knows that.”

On Sunday night, older daughter Erin Kelly Instagrammed a photo of her and her dad walking down the hall at the Buffalo hospital where he’s being treated for the cancer. She wrote: “So thankful that he was up for a little walk today!!! God is good!!!! And He HEALS!!! #prayersforjk”

“Everybody in the area grows up a Bills fan,” Tasker said. “The Bills become a part of your clan. Right now, Jim’s got the prayers of an entire region being said for him.”

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180 comments
DrJoeS
DrJoeS

Answer to your travel question - many people are inconsiderate rule-avoiding morons.  Unfortunately they also fly with their selfish attitudes.

RickGaille
RickGaille

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

https://greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/

Jane Doe
Jane Doe

Grand Budapest Hotel may be Wes Anderson's masterpiece.  Must see if you're a fan of his work.  It definitely reached the level of The Royal Tannenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.  

BigBlueJuju
BigBlueJuju

Peter, whatever you were trying to express with your comment about the press coverage of L'Wren Scott's death, you botched it.  Time to apologize.

Ilovemesomeme
Ilovemesomeme

I read the story about the Remy's what an awful group of people.  Kids who are violent, abusive, and unremorseful, and parents who enabled the behavior for decades. 


Just bad people. 

DanSteelersFan
DanSteelersFan

How can Raiders fans stand it?  Add Schaub and forgo drafting a potential franchise QB in round 1.  Guaranteeing .500 football at best for the next few years.  It's hard to believe that this team's front office is trying to create a winner.  Did T.Pryor have what it takes to grow into a really good QB?  We'll never know.  How frustrating it must be, to be a part of this organization.

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

Peter I still can't get over the 50 year pass you gave the recently deceased owner of the Detriot Lions he owned the team for 50 years never one nothing and never a bad word from you. Al Davis you ripped him apart weekly was it because he was a republican ?

gary7
gary7

I don't like this ref replay thing, I know it's football but after watching college BB the last 2 weeks where the last 2 minutes take 20-30 minutes to play, I'm tired of these refs getting to much face time and killing the momentum, that college replay needs to be change to 1 challenge per coach in last 2 minutes, and I can see the refs prancing and posing in the NFL when this or that replay goes 5 minutes or longer AND IT WILL...ONE challenge  per team per half, keep replay booth for last 2, I like watching but with this thing now itching closer and closer to 4 hours... and that's too much

fortyfukingniners
fortyfukingniners

You gotta feel for @DHoyt77. He actually follows Roddy White's Twitter feed.




fortyfukingniners
fortyfukingniners

Mr. King;


In your article you appear to suggest the sixth-round picks offered for both Schaub and Gabbert by the Raiders and Niners respectively make the deals somehow comparable. And you imply that, although both deals are questionable, the Niners' deal makes the least sense. Your argument as made is not supportable by the information provided.


1. Gabbert's cap hit is 2 million; Schaub's is 11 million. Gabbert is a farm implement--Schaub is the farm.

2. Gabbert is replacing an unproductive player (McCoy) with a similar cap number and it is anyway hoped he will not see the field in a regular season or playoff game. It's unlikely they will keep him past his current contract.

3  Schaub's numbers are better, but he played for a much better team (excluding 2013-14).

4. Gabbert is eight years younger (only 24) than Schaub (32).

5. I don't imagine a sixth-round pick would even make the Niners team and anyway they have a boatload of picks, most of whom will also be lucky to make the team.

6. Gabbert's a fixer-upper. If he's able to prove himself (increasing his value) the Niners could possible get more in trade than they gave for him.


The Raiders are playing go-big-or-go-home with their gamble on Schaub. With any luck, it won't matter who's holding Kaep's clipboard.


How are these deals in any way comparable?



LenoreJEller
LenoreJEller

like Rodney implied I am inspired that some people able to make $4363 in 4 weeks on the computer . visit their website




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mikestheref
mikestheref

The NFL is not exempt from the nepotism seen in any other corporate hiring environment. Just goes to show that in life it truly is more of WHO you know than WHAT you know that gets you through the front door.

FerdBerfel
FerdBerfel

If you REALLY want to improve the officiating in the NFL, make the refs full-time employees like every other sports league in the country.  What kind of message are you sending people you want to buy your product when the men charged with maintaining order within that product have to find work elsewhere?  It tells ME, "Go ahead and pay $100 a ticket to watch our game, even though we think so little of it we'll hire the guy who changed your tires Wednesday to officiate our games once a week for four months."

For all the money flowing into the NFL, the way they approach their referees is no different than some Class C high school league in Montana.

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

Merril Hoge, QB evaluator?  Really, Peter?  What possibly qualifies an ex-fullback who seems to have taken far too many hits to evaluate Manziel?  We're not talking about Jim Harbaugh, or even Peyton Manning.  Or Archie Manning.   Steve Young.  I don't much like Phil Simms or his half-assed opinions (those of us in the Bay Area still remember him trashing Andrew Luck's arm strength quite clearly two years ago, a point no doubt Phil would like everyone to have forgotten almost immediately.)


And god knows we're not talking about Bill Walsh here and his uncanny sense of any QB prospect.


Merril Hoge?


I have no idea if Manziel will be Russell Wilson or Doug Flutie (of course Flutie was NOT a NFL success, in spite of the east coast nostalgia), but I do know that every year the overwhelming number of NFL Draft "experts" (including Mayock & Kuiper) are wrong, and then they try to distance themselves from every stupid opinion ASAP.


The draft is mostly a crapshoot, with those rare souls like Walsh who are more often right....  But then Walsh picked a number of #1 busts for the 49ers (Earl Cooper, Jim Stuckey, Todd Shell, Terrence Flager, Keith DeLong, Dexter Carter…).


Humility is the way to approach any draft, like so many other things of life.  Think Greek, Peter--it might do you a world of good.


And ignore Merril Hoge on QBs at all cost.

MatthiasGiese
MatthiasGiese

Grand Budapest hotel? Go. This from film buff and director.

jdclark56
jdclark56

Zone 4 goes up to block Zone 5 which has been standing there since they got to the gate.

pk_sea
pk_sea

Peter King, I'd like to hear your thoughts/comments on Mark Cuban's assertion that the NFL will implode in the next ten years due to its greed.

ArthurJBeezwaxIII
ArthurJBeezwaxIII

How about demanding equal enforcement of the rules regardless of what team is playing. The distortion of calls/non calls from one game/team to the next was so obvious it makes it look like there is criminal manipulation going on. Maybe there is, sure looks like it.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

You can't help but notice all these stories about what a great group of guys the referees are. Just one of the gang, you know. Hoping that we will forget that their performance is subpar and has been getting worse for years. Another way, it seems, the NFL is losing credibility. If the league isn't careful we will start comparing them to FIFA.

donald5
donald5

Sounds like a lot of this "push to talk" stuff is to hide the fact that a guy 40 yards away is the one making the garbage PI call.

grizzlypete
grizzlypete

Jeff Triplette needs to be fired. He is incompetent throughout the entire season. How many game changing mistakes is he allowed? 

benseattle
benseattle

This:  <<  Because of the wide disparity of opinions around the NFL (including those among opinion-swayers in the media) about Manziel, this is probably the single most important workout any player will have before the May draft.  >>

"Opinion-swayers in the media?"  You're kidding, right?   I can hear it now in an NFL war room between life-long coaches, expert scouts and veteran talent evauators:  "Hey, are we taking Manziel or not?"   "I'm not sure... I just read that Peter King (or Chris Berman or Mel Kiper) doesn't like him.  We don't dare."

Puffed-up ego much?   Guys who know more about football GOSSIP than actual TALENT now claiming to be influential enough to affect the picks a team makes sounds absolutely ludicrous to me.   I can think of hundreds of examples where "the media" just loved a player who turned out to be a bust and then just crapped all over a guy for some oddball reason and the player turns himself into a starter or a star.    If Peter King or his buddies in the media actually believe that a couple of paragraphs in a column about a particular player are going to supersede what a team's brain trust is going to do, then this is conclusive proof that there is, indeed, such a thing as LSD flashbacks.



DanSteelersFan
DanSteelersFan

I hope they do.  Raiders fans deserve better.  But it won't happen.

MichaelWallis1
MichaelWallis1

@DanSteelersFan, who says they plan on foregoing a quarterback in the first round. They could just be taking a flyer to Schaub and use him as a mentor to the next quarterback they draft. 

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@Raiderforlife  Ford was simply the owner, not the Owner/Manager like Davis or Jerry Jones - 2 examples of meddling owners who ruined their teams. Ford also ran a business that provided millions of jobs and was dedicated to the Michigan area. Of course it has to be because he might be a Republican - typical pea-brained conservative hysterical rant.

KidHorn
KidHorn

@gary7 It seems like after every play near the end of the game they have to reset the clock. OK, I get it, but why does it take 5 minutes?

RickDesper
RickDesper

@FerdBerfel  Full-time employees for, what, at most 25 days of work in a given calendar year?  That would certainly be generous.  

Mike26
Mike26

@FerdBerfel   That would take some guys, good officials, out of college basketball. One is Gene Steratore, one of the top guys in D-1.

Wolfpack
Wolfpack

@DavidHarte  I agree about Merril Hoge.  He seems to have an opinion about everything and none of it positive.  Hasn't he had his "15 minutes of fame" already?  Can we move on to the next washed up NFLer now? 

#TiredOfMerrilHogeRants. 

Ilovemesomeme
Ilovemesomeme

@benseattle The media controls the message, and by proxy, in some instances, the draft stock of players.  Many front office types don't like to rock the boat.  If the media is dogging a particular player who is supposed to be a high draft pick, I believe some GM's would shy away from drafting that player based upon the amount of head they'd take from others in the organization and the fanbase.  I'm not saying they should take it into account, I agree they should not.  But I think some of them certainly do.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@benseattle  But even the players buy into some of it. When Michael Crabtree was holding out on the 49ers before his rookie season he based his worth on how high Mel Kiper had rated him before the draft. That a receiver from U. of Maryland was drafted ahead of him, cost Crabtree a lot of money.

fortyfukingniners
fortyfukingniners

@DanSteelersFan  It's the city of Oakland that deserves better-- better than the Raiders. As a Steeler fan, you must appreciate that Art Rooney built an organization that made Pittsburgh proud. Al Davis (and now his family) have mainly just used Oakland and Alameda County (and their taxpayers). After extorting hundreds of millions in Stadium improvements (while paying ridiculously low rent) from a community that really can't afford it, they are again casting their greedy eyes upon greener pastures. Los Angeles Raiders: it's got a nice sound to it.

Ilovemesomeme
Ilovemesomeme

@Raiderforlife @fortyfukingniners I don't think he was bashing anyone.  Jus trying to understand how someone like Gabbert receives the same draft pick compensation as someone like Schaub.  All of Forty's points are valid though.

RickDesper
RickDesper

@Rickapolis @benseattle  There's nothing wrong with being from U. of Maryland.  If Crabtree thinks there is, I'm sure his teammate Vernon Davis could explain his error.

The problem was not that Heyward-Bey was a Terp.  It's that the Raiders drafted him for his speed and didn't really make an accurate appraisal of his true potential.  The Raiders took a lot of flak for making that choice.  

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