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Johnny Manziel Draws Comparisons to Steve Young

Posted Mar 28, 2014

Jerry Rice and Jon Gruden have said the NFL prospect projects to have Young-like qualities at the pro level. Are they right?


Johnny Manziel could end up being the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Manziel is drawing comparisons to the No. 1 pick in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft.

Yes, San Francisco 49ers great Steve Young.

"He reminds me of Steve Young," another Hall of Fame alum, Jerry Rice, said on NFL Network. "When (Young) first came in, he wanted to run the football. With Johnny Manziel, if he can just relax and stay in the pocket, deliver the ball down the field with accuracy and get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, it's a no-brainer for the Houston Texans to take this guy."

Manziel measured at a quarter of an inch under 6 feet tall and 207 pounds at the Scouting Combine; Young measured at 6 feet, 2 inches and 215 pounds during his playing days.

But Rice said he sees things in Manziel, including his sense of competition, his desire to be perfect and his success in the spotlight, that yield juxtapositions.

"He showed me he could drop back," Rice said of Manziel's performance at his Texas A&M pro day on Thursday. "He can deliver the ball with accuracy, and he likes that big stage.

"He proved to everybody that, 'Look, I deserve to be that No. 1 guy.'"

One question experts have for Manziel is what some wondered about Young when he the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted him away from BYU: Can he be a pocket passer?

"I remember when I played with Steve," Rice said, "Steve would run up my back because he wouldn't stay in the pocket. If (Manziel) can dial that down a little bit and have confidence in the pocket and stay in the pocket, I feel like Johnny Manziel can throw the ball downfield."

Here is what another respected NFL voice, ESPN analyst and former coach Jon Gruden, said about the comparison:

Now, it's the Steve Young we saw coming out of BYU, not the finished product who won a Super Bowl and became a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But the similarities are there, and it's exciting: He's very fast, all over the place athletically, very similar size. My dad was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they took Young in the supplemental draft back in 1984. I remember him studying a lot of Young's tape at BYU and with the L.A. Express (USFL). There's a lot of common ground: their size, speed, playmaking ability and upside. The upside is tremendous.