INDIANAPOLIS -- Before Jim Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship Games, he recruited a range of quarterbacks to Stanford University. Harbaugh couldn’t have done much better than Andrew Luck, but three years after leaving the college game for the NFL, he vividly remembers recruiting a QB who eluded him. How could Harbaugh forget Johnny Manziel?
"'We gotta have this guy,'" was how Harbaugh, speaking Thursday at the NFL scouting combine, described his thinking on Manziel at the time. “I just loved watching him play football. He's a guy you can’t take your eye off of.”
NFL coaches and personnel people have locked their eyes on the Texas A&M quarterback at the scouting combine this week, and Manziel took center stage Friday in speaking with the media and submitting to NFL measurements. Manziel checked in at 5-foot-11 ¾ and 207 pounds, with bigger hands than Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles (9 ¾ inches was the official size). As many as six of the first eight teams in the order could realistically target a quarterback, fueling expectations among NFL evaluators that Manziel will not last beyond the first five or 10 picks.
Those same evaluators do not agree over whether any team selecting Manziel that early will be better for the investment.
"He scares me," one general manager said.
"He scares me more playing against him," another said.
After discussing with several NFL evaluators here in Indianapolis, I've acquired a lot of feedback on Manziel. Which team or teams will provide the best fit for him?