It is widely believed that Johnny Manziel will be one of the first quarterbacks selected in the 2014 NFL draft. Mock drafts at ESPN.com, CBS Sports, and Sports Illustrated all have Manziel taken in the first round, with some having him selected with one of the first 10 picks.
But not everyone agrees that Manziel is destined for pro-level greatness. NFL analyst Merle Hoge had this to say a couple of months ago:
He has absolutely no instinct or feel for pocket awareness. He has an instinct to run. That's a bad instinct if you're going to have that in the National Football League. You have to play in the pocket with traffic around you and throw it. When traffic comes around him, he runs, and that's dangerous in the National Football League. His skill set does not transition to the National Football League, and it is a big, big risk. In fact, I see bust written all over him, especially if he's drafted in the first round.
Many NFL analysts have raised similar questions about how Manziel will play in the NFL. And yet, few people think Manziel will not be selected in the 2014 first round. So who will prove to be right? Is the team that does call his name—presumably early on Thursday night—making the right choice? Or are the skeptics right to claim they would not select Manziel?
To fully understand that question, it’s important to recognize why an NFL team might think Manziel is a top quarterback. In 2009, Rob Simmons and I published a paper on the logic used in drafting NFL quarterbacks. Recently I updated this analysis, looking at the quarterbacks drafted from 1998 to 2013. The results this time—which were quite consistent with our earlier work—reveal some of the factors teams emphasize on the day of the draft.