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One of the biggest questions about the upcoming NFL draft is how soon Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will be chosen.
Everyone knows about his success in college, including winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman.
And unlike another former Heisman winner, Tim Tebow, few NFL scouts question Manziel’s arm strength.
Their big question about whether he can be successful as a pro is his height. He is 6 feet tall and for some reason the pros prefer quarterbacks to be at least 6-foot-4.
Supposedly taller quarterbacks can see over their offensive lines better to find open receivers.
But as another quarterback in this draft, 6-foot-0 1⁄2 Aaron Murray of Georgia, told Dan Patrick in last week’s Sports Illustrated, “Two years ago I had the biggest offensive line in college or pro football. We averaged around 6-5, 330 pounds. I threw 35 touchdowns that year. I had no trouble seeing over them.”
After all, any lineman worth his weight isn’t standing straight up when he’s blocking. And a quarterback can look over linemen’s shoulders—not the tops of their heads.
Seattle, this year’s Super Bowl champion, was quarterbacked by 5-11 Russell Wilson.
Drew Brees, who is 6-foot, quarterbacked New Orleans to the 2010 Super Bowl championship and has averaged 42 touchdown passes the last three seasons.
He has led the NFL in touchdown passes and passing yards four times and pass completion percentage three times.
This NFL obsession with height isn’t really recent either. Another 6-foot quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, had a fantastic career in the 1960s and ’70s and was the NFL career leader in passing yards and touchdowns when he retired.
Yet he was drafted in the third round, which he noted in his autobiography, “means they think you can’t play.”
Not surprisingly, Tarkenton highly praised Manziel recently, telling USA Today, “This kid plays like I did more than anybody else. . . . People are going to say, ‘Well, he's only 5-11¾ tall.’ I wasn't as big, strong and fast as all these other players. But I knew how to play.”
So does Manziel. Let’s hope that will be the main thing that NFL scouts consider on draft day—instead of his height.