Should Patriots Sign Johnny Manziel … And Move Him To Wide Receiver?


Mar 27, 2018

The New England Patriots signed Tim Tebow five years ago. That was the moment literally anything became possible within the Patriots’ organization.

So, now we can’t just take reports that the Patriots have met with Johnny Manziel twice within the last five days (which is more often than most adults see their closest friends or family, by the way) with a grain of salt.

Maybe in a pre-Tebow world, we’d assume the Patriots were doing their due diligence with Johnny Football. Maybe we’d think Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was just doing Manziel a solid by showing interest in an attempt to raise the quarterback’s stock. Perhaps we could take that a step farther and surmise it was to make up for that weird Patriots scouting report on Manziel that leaked in 2014 that might or might not have been real. (Belichick was asked about it at the time and didn’t deny the veracity.)

So, the idea of the Patriots signing Manziel, who has been out of football for over two years, is absurd enough.

Let’s take it another step forward. Let’s get nuts.

If the Patriots sign Manziel, should they move him to wide receiver? Keep in mind we have no knowledge of the Patriots’ interest in Manziel. This is purely conjecture.

There are a few things to consider here. First, Manziel has a slight build for a quarterback. He was just under 6 feet and 207 pounds at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. Robert Griffin III couldn’t stay healthy in the NFL as a mobile quarterback, and he was 16 pounds heavier.

Second, it seems difficult to imagine Manziel being dedicated enough to learn and run the Patriots’ complex offense. Perhaps now that Manziel is 25 years old and on his last chance to revive his career he’s matured. But the Manziel who played at Texas A&M and with the Cleveland Browns wouldn’t survive in the Patriots’ quarterback room.

Manziel’s measurables are shockingly similar to those of Patriots slot receivers, however. We won’t waste your time with blind resumes.

6 feet, 207 pounds
4.68-second 40-yard dash
1.63-second 10-yard split
31.5-inch vertical leap
9-foot, 6-inch broad jump
4.03-second short shuttle
6.75-second 3-cone

Wes Welker
5-foot-9, 195 pounds
4.65-second 40-yard dash
30-inch vertical leap
9-foot, 5-inch broad jump
4.01-second short shuttle
7.09-second 3-cone

Julian Edelman
5-foot-10, 195 pounds
4.52-second 40-yard dash
1.52-second 10-yard split
36.5-inch vertical leap
10-foot, 3-inch broad jump
3.92-second short shuttle
6.62-second 3-cone

Danny Amendola
5-foot-11, 183 pounds
4.58-second 40-yard dash
1.56-second 10-yard split
31.5-inch vertical leap
8-foot, 7-inch broad jump
4.25-second short shuttle
6.81-second 3-cone

Manziel’s 3-cone and short shuttle are elite at any position, and those are the two drills judged most heavily when evaluating slot receivers and cornerbacks because they measure quickness and agility.

Manziel was asked about the possibility of moving to safety on Barstool Sports’ podcast “Pardon My Take.” He said, while laughing, if he were to switch positions, it would be to receiver.

“So, there were a couple guys who were training with us last year for the NFL draft who were quarterbacks,” Manziel said on the podcast in February. “I would hop in and just run routes for them and stuff like that. In my first year, my redshirt year at A&M, I still played some receiver. So, if there would ever be a position change, I’m definitely not going to defense. I’m definitely going to try to be a hybrid mix of Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.”

It actually would be useful for the Patriots to have a backup slot receiver behind Edelman (who played quarterback himself at Kent State, if you hadn’t heard). The Patriots even showed interest in trading for Terrelle Pryor the summer after he switched to wide receiver. (The interest lessened after he was cut and the team actually met with him.)

Patriots wideout Chris Hogan can play the slot in a pinch. The Patriots also have Riley McCarron as a young slot option with upside.

The most likely scenario here is nothing happens — that the Patriots don’t sign Manziel at all. The second most likely scenario is the Patriots sign Manziel and try him out at quarterback. But isn’t it fun to think about Manziel being Edelman 2.0?

And if former NFL general managers can talk about Lamar Jackson moving to receiver before he even takes an NFL snap, then we can speculate about Manziel making a switch himself. It’s not as if he was a good quarterback in the two seasons he did play in the NFL.

Manziel likely won’t be ready to make the switch unless he receives no serious interest from NFL teams this offseason about playing quarterback. But playing receiver in the NFL seems like a better option than being a quarterback up in the CFL or in the Arena Football League.

Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images
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