Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Bowl Watch: Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 31, 2013 - 1:38 PM

Before the ball drops tonight, you might want to flip on the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Not because the food is good but Texas A&M Johnny Manziel could play his final college game on Tuesday.

In just two seasons, Johnny Football has been one of the most electrifying college players of all-time that draws comparison to former Vikings quarterback and Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton.

The numbers:

Redshirt sophomore (2013): 3,732 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, .691 completion percentage, 170.4 passer rating …finished fifth in the Heisman trophy voting.

Redshirt freshman (2012): 3,706 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions, .680 completions percentage, 155.3 passer rating …won the Heisman trophy


ESPN’s Todd McShay (1.0 Mock): Top four pick (order not updated since season ended)…third quarterback taken behind Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles.’s Rob Rang: fifth overall pick to the Oakland Raiders…third quarterback taken behind Bridgewater and Bortles’s Dane Brugler: third overall pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars…second quarterback taken behind Bridgewater

It’s very early but surprising to see how these mock drafts currently sit with not only Manziel but at the position. Bridgewater is by far the best quarterback, and arguably the best player, in this draft. Manziel’s getting a lot of love early in the process likely due to the number of teams in the top 10 that need a quarterback, including the Vikings.

What to watch:

Johnny Football is sure to put on a wild show in this game, but he has a knack of throwing the ball into dangerous situations. It helps when there’s another first round talent at wide receiver, Mike Evans, but it’s something he can’t afford to do in the NFL. He’ll need to touch up on his mechanics as well with a knack of throwing off his back foot.

No matter what team gets him though, Manziel will surely bring new life to the franchise with the excitement he brings on the field.


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