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Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer: Johnny Manziel’s pro day a ‘sideshow’


While most of the NFL analyst, media types and others were falling all over themselves to gush over Johnny Manziel’s pro day workout at Texas A&M and praise the potential high first round pick, new Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was not one of them.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Zimmer felt it was more a dog-and-pony show as opposed to an accurate representation of Manziel’s skill set and potential.

Zimmer, who was in attendance along with Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner and general manager Rick Speilman, used the words “sideshow” and “choreographed” to characterize his thoughts on the spectacle.

“It was different,” he said, via “It was a different workout.”

Zimmer previously stated that his most pressing concern about Manziel is his maturity.

“It’s still going to come down to how we feel about how he’s going to be in the locker room, what kind of person he’s going to be, what kind of leader, and then go from there,’’ Zimmer said, according to the Pioneer Press.

Turner, meanwhile, praised Manziel’s performance, but said more work needs to be done to evaluate the quarterback (via the Cleveland Plain Dealer):

“I think coaches and scouts want to see a quarterback physically throw the ball. You get to watch game tape and see how he plays,” Turner said. “This guy is an amazing player, and then you see his physical skills. It just helps to see a guy in person . . .

“Here’s the deal: You only get so many opportunities to evaluate a player, and to not use every single one of them makes no sense to me. We’re going to exhaust every opportunity to evaluate a player. You get an opportunity to meet with a guy, and who knows what will come out of that? It might be something good . . . If you’re allowed to do these things, it makes sense to do them.”

Ultimately, as is the case with any team evaluating Manziel, the Vikings must see through and look beyond a staged workout intended to highlight the quarterback’s strengths and minimize his shortcomings. Zimmer, Speilman and Turner reportedly had dinner with Johnny Football on Thursday night with more meetings scheduled for Friday.

Zimmer’s critical comments of the workout have no bearing on whether the Vikings would pass on Manziel should he last to the eighth pick, a scenario that appears less likely following his impressive performance where he made all the throws while completing 61 of 64 passes. It’s not like the Vikings are going to lay all their cards on the table for other teams to see in the first place. Why gush over him publicly if the team truly covets him?

Many draft experts believe any slide Manziel may have been taking down the draft board was reversed or at the very least stalled by his pro day.

“I think his pro day confirms what has been the general thought all along: He will be heavily considered by several teams in the top five,” said Dane Brugler, a senior analyst at and who attended the workout (via the Pioneer Press). “The general consensus from NFL scouts in attendance was that it was a good workout and showed his strengths just like the tape.”

But all is not lost for the Vikings should the team be holding out hope Manziel slides and is available to them at the eighth pick.

ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, who previously hammered Manziel, saying he wouldn’t take him in the first three rounds and argued that the quarterback “won’t last three games” with his playing style, hedged his bets a bit on Johnny Football.

“I certainly would move him up a bit,” Jaworski said, via Pro Football Talk. “I moved him from the fourth round to the third round.”

There you have it. According to Jaws, every team will get a crack at drafting Johnny Football. Somehow, the scenario Jaworski envisions playing out just doesn’t seem likely.