Dallas Colleges: Russell Wilson
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesWhat parts of Johnny Manziel's game need to improve for him to play in the NFL?
Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick transformed the game with their speed and versatility, forcing defenses to adapt to a new style of play.
All three of those quarterbacks were also proficient passers. They each possess four qualities necessary to be a successful quarterback in the NFL: overall accuracy, ability to handle the blitz, downfield precision and composure under duress.
Manziel is skilled in all four categories, but he could improve in each next season to boost his draft stock if he decides to declare for the draft.
In 2012, Manziel completed 68 percent of his passes, which ranked ninth among FBS teams. He was at his best on short and intermediate passes, completing more than 76 percent of his throws within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
One of his greatest strengths was putting the ball in spots that enabled his receivers to run after the catch. Texas A&M ranked sixth among colleges in AQ conferences in yards after the catch, averaging 6.5 yards after the catch per reception.
Ability to handle the blitz
Opponents blitzed Manziel on fewer than 30 percent of his dropbacks last season.
Although Manziel’s completion percentage was significantly lower against the blitz, he exploited blitzing defenses with big plays.
Manziel averaged a play of 20 yards or more once every 6.4 dropbacks when opponents blitzed, compared with once every 8.5 dropbacks when they sent standard pressure.
His biggest plays came when scrambling, with him rushing for 389 yards and seven touchdowns on 32 scrambles against the blitz.
This is probably the one area Manziel could improve the most. Last season, he completed 38.7 percent of his passes of 20 yards or longer with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
To put that into perspective, Griffin III, Wilson and Andrew Luck all completed a higher percentage of their passes on throws of this distance in their final year of college.
Manziel can learn from those quarterbacks, who all increased their completion percentages on throws of at least 20 yards downfield in their final college seasons.
Composure under duress
Last season, Manziel completed 51.4 percent of his passes when under duress, about 11 percentage points higher than the FBS average.
He was at his best when forced to improvise. Manziel ran for 857 yards and 10 touchdowns on 86 scramble attempts in 2012. He also threw for 581 yards and eight touchdowns when forced to throw from outside the pocket.
Many question whether this aspect of Manziel’s game will translate to the NFL, given his size and the speed of NFL defenses. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Manziel is small for an NFL quarterback. Of the 49 NFL quarterbacks who attempted at least 30 passes last season, only three were 6-1 or shorter, and only one weighed 200 pounds or less.
In terms of the speed of NFL defenses, Texas A&M faced its share of NFL talent last season; 26 opposing defensive players were taken in the 2013 NFL draft.
Last season against Alabama, the top defense in the nation, Manziel ran for 92 yards. It was the most rushing yards the Crimson Tide had allowed to an opposing quarterback since Nick Saban became Alabama's coach in 2007.
More report cards:
Robert Griffin III threw to Kendall Wright for 1,663 yards and 14 scores, which led the Big 12 and ranked third nationally.
Griffin's 37 touchdown passes and six interceptions were among then nation's best ratios and he finished behind only Wisconsin's Russell Wilson this season, joining Wilson to break the FBS passer rating record that stood before the season.
The Bears ranked second nationally in total offense and fourth in scoring offense and led the nation by three with 12 plays longer than 60 yards.
Not much else to say about this group.
DEFENSE: This group, though? Not exactly strong. The numbers tell plenty of the story, and anyone who watched the Bears' 67-56 win over Washington in the Alamo Bowl. Baylor racked up 777 yards of offense, but gave up 620. That's how it's been all year for the Bears, who became the first team in FBS history to win four consecutive games in a single season while also giving up at least 30 points.
Baylor's defense struggled just about everywhere, and finished the season 116th in total defense. That's inflated by a fast-paced offense that maximizes the number of plays per game ... but it's not inflated that much. This defense wasn't very good this year. It has a collection of good athletes, but DC Phil Bennett never quite got the group together this year in his first year taking over. They finished 113th in scoring with 37.2 points a game. Not good. Will the offense be there to pick up the slack next year?
OVERALL: Defensive struggles aside, there's no shaking the history Baylor made this season. Ten wins for the first time since 1980 and third time ever. Griffin's Heisman, the first in school history. This was one for the books at Baylor, who struggled for the entire history of the BCS this year, but came one win (Kansas State) from crashing the BCS and nearly earning a share of the Big 12 title.
Still, the Bears made history this year, and that's to be commended. They found ways to win tight games in three consecutive weeks over Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, the first win in school history over the Sooners. The year began with a win over TCU that put the Bears on the map, and ended with a six-game winning streak. Well done.
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