- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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Johnny Manziel's decision to break the mold for quarterback pro day workouts came about innocently enough, over a lunchtime conversation in February with his personal coach, George Whitfield.
That's when Whitfield proposed to the former Heisman Trophy winner that he try something that no elite quarterback prospect had previously attempted at his pro day at Texas A&M: throw passes while wearing shoulder pads and a helmet.
But Manziel, whose by-the-seat-of-his-pants style turned him into a college football folk legend, was game.
"He didn't say anything for about five minutes and he goes, 'You think we can pull that off?' " Whitfield said. "And I said, 'How do you do on Thursday practices? You've got to try to take the high-wire act out of it. It's a Thursday practice.' He goes, 'Shoot, now that you say that, I've been killing teams in pads all my life.' "
The only opponents Manziel needed to defeat at pro day were the scouts and analysts who said his skills wouldn't translate to the NFL game. But he answered those criticisms with great success, thanks in part to the carefully scripted battery of passes that Whitfield designed for the workout.
As the NFL draft begins tonight, we'll know if the pro days achieved their desired results. That's their purpose, especially for quarterbacks. They want to show off what they do well and also address any concerns about physical limitations that NFL clubs might have in order to improve their draft stock.
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