New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees knows plenty about having the odds stacked against him. Despite standing at just 6-feet tall, Brees is one of the best passers in the NFL. Other Elite quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are nearly six inches taller than Brees, but the former Purdue star lights up the scoreboard just the same.
In that sense, Johnny Manziel and Brees have something in common. Manziel is 6-foot-1 and many scouts have questioned whether or not he can become an effective quarterback at the next level. During an interview with FOXSports.com on Wednesday, Brees was asked if he believes Manziel can be a starter in the NFL.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Brees said. “It’s hard for a young quarterback to come in this league and have success immediately. That’s more the exception than the rule. What those three rookie quarterbacks were able to accomplish last season — [Robert Griffin III], Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson — was pretty phenomenal. That’s not easy to do at all.”
Most people felt Brees was too small and would have too many passes batted down because of it. Nearly 50,000 career passing yards, 349 touchdowns and a Super Bowl MVP award later, and Brees has silenced each and every one of his critics. The 34-year-old believes Manziel can do the same because of his playmaking ability.
“He is a heck of a player,” Brees said. “He’s fun to watch. He makes all kinds of plays. He’s got all the playmaking ability to be a great player. [There are] guys like [Manziel] in this league. Russell Wilson and his ability to run the football and extend plays outside the pocket and throw the ball down the field. Intermediate [routes], I mean he can do it all.”
Manziel has a legitimate shot at winning another Heisman Trophy this season, as he has proven he can make elite throws in addition to scrambling. However, question marks surrounding his NFL potential have as much — or more — to do with his maturity level as they do his physical makeup. Brees alluded to that.
“You have to instill confidence in the guy’s you’re playing with so they’ll follow you and play for you so you can get the best out of them,” he said. “It’s all about leadership.”
It’s the extracurricular stuff that makes Manziel “undraftable” to some NFL teams. It’s also that stuff that could make him a steal in April if he can overcome his physical limits the way Brees did.