The Oakland Raiders recently traded quarterback Terrelle Pryor to the Seattle Seahawks for a seventh round pick in this year’s draft. While there were many reasons behind the decision to move Pryor, the primary consideration was his performance on the field. Though never confirmed, the issue cited by most beat reporters was his tendency to revert to schoolyard tactics rather than sticking to the game plan.
Pryor wowed many with his athletic abilities, but he often times showed a tendency to rely on those abilities a little too much. Rather than staying in the pocket and going through his progressions, Pryor would bail out early, often missing the chance to hit open receivers. He would buy time while hoping his wideouts would get open after breaking their routes. It seems the Raiders coaching staff believed they would find more success behind a quarterback who ran the plays they called, rather than a guy who preferred to improvise.
Which is exactly why drafting Johnny Manziel does not make sense for the Raiders.
Manziel is already a better thrower than Pryor from the pocket. But when Manziel is at his best, he is outside of the tackles using his agility to extend plays and find guys open downfield for big plays. Let’s face it, Johnny Football is the probably the quarterback who most fits the “gunslinger” label since Brett Favre.
A true gunslinger can be a great thing to watch. They often pull of seemingly impossible feats at the most crucial times, but they also tend to throw a lot of interceptions. The Raiders have shown a tendency to run a much more conservative passing offense than the type where Manziel would excel. Johnny Football is simply not a West Coast style quarterback, and that’s what the Raiders are looking for.
The Raiders are also likely not the best landing spot for Manziel. At Texas A&M, Manziel was assisted by having an absolute stud of a receiver in Mike Evans. Often times, the magical plays made by Manziel were reminiscent of what you often see when watching the Detroit Lions. Manziel throws the ball up, expecting Evans to be better than everyone around him and come down with the ball, and more often than not that is exactly what happened.
If Manziel came to the Raiders, he would not have a Megatron or even an Evans to throw to. The Raiders have a young and talented group of receivers, but none of them are the type who can go up and beat others to the ball. Andre Holmes has the size but is still very raw. Rod Streater could turn into that kind of guy but certainly is not there yet. The Raiders just do not have the quality players at the wide receiver position that Manziel would need to find success doing what he does best, improvising.
Johnny Football very well could turn into a great quarterback in the NFL, but the Raiders do not seem like an ideal fit for that to happen.