Johnny Manziel, widely considered one of the top quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft, believes Russell Wilson is to thank for showing the league that smaller-sized quarterbacks can thrive in the NFL.
“I think he’s kicked the door wide open,” Manziel said on Sunday to the Houston Chronicle. ”You’re seeing more guys being successful avoiding that first wave of pressure — get out and do things outside the pocket.”
Wilson stands at 5-foot-11, though at the NFL combine in 2012 he came was listed at 5-foot-10 and 5/8 inches.
By winning Super Bowl XLVIII, he became only the second quarterback smaller than 6-foot-2 to win the Super Bowl since 1983. On the other side of the field on Feb. 2 was Peyton Manning, who is 6-foot-5.
Here is an interesting fact to tell your friends: no quarterback under 6-foot has been drafted in the first two rounds since the 5-foot-10 Ted Marchibroda in 1953. He was the No. 5 pick, selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But how much does size matter at the quarterback position?
Manziel, who stands at 6-foot even, doesn’t think it does and he believes Wilson would be successful regardless of his height.
“Wilson does some things he’s not asked to do when things don’t go exactly as scripted,” Manziel told the Chronicle. “He’s able to extend the play.
“One reason [the Seahawks] were so successful early in the Super Bowl was that he was 4-of-5 on third down and was able to continue to push the ball down the field and get them where they needed to be.”
Manziel also thinks that the game is changing in favor of quarterbacks who are mobile like Wilson.
“The game’s evolving,” Manziel said. “More and more [pass rushers] like [defensive end Jadeveon] Clowney are coming out of college, and they’re big, and they can run. You have to be able to create plays.”
Wilson has shown that he is worth far more than what NFL scouts gave him credit for in 2012.
He has a career 100.6 quarterback rating and has thrown for 6,475 yards and 52 touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons. He has the most wins by an NFL quarterback in his first two NFL seasons, he is a two-time Pro-Bowler and, at age 25, he is a Super Bowl champion.
Not bad for a guy who was told his “height [would] be his biggest inhibitor at the next level” in his NFL combine profile.