Zimmer: Vikings trying to decipher Manziel

Johnny Manziel (Andy Hayt/Getty)

Mike Zimmer talked about his visit with Johnny Manziel and his impressions from pro day last week during a radio interview Monday.

The Vikings were at Johnny Manziel's pro day en masse. General manager Rick Spielman attended. Head coach Mike Zimmer was by his side. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner were also there.

The Vikings have made no secret of their in-depth study of the quarterback prospects this year. They were represented at the pro days for Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater, too.

But Manziel's pro day was different. He was in shoulder pads and a black helmet, had music pumped in over the speakers and was chased by his offseason quarterbacks coach George Whitfield with a broom.

But what the Vikings couldn't measure in a pro day they were attempting to find out later that night and the next morning: Is Johnny Manziel focused on football?

"We asked him all kinds of questions. We went to dinner with him the night after (his pro day). We talked to him at the Combine. There are some flags that come up. All of the things that happened out in Los Angeles, the commercials and all that stuff," Zimmer told 104.9 The Horn in Austin, per 247 Sports. "The position of quarterback in the NFL is such an important position and the reason these guys need to be a totally football-minded guy is the pressure of the position and being the face of an NFL team and doing everything right.

"That's the thing you want to know about him: Will he be into work early every single day? Will be the last to leave? Will he be the guy that is working the hardest to get better? There is a change, otherwise all of these other quarterbacks that have come up through the years would have made it, from the college game to the NFL game as far as the speed of the defense and some of the complexities of the different defenses. So that position has got to be a position that really eats, breaths, and sleeps football where he is going to take it upon his shoulders to win. At least the Peyton Mannings, Drew Brees of the world have done that and really that's all we have to go on in the NFL is past history."

Manning and Brees have certainly done their share of commercials, too, but they were more established in the NFL before taking in many of the sponsorship deals. Manziel's pro day gear is already being sold by Nike.

But Manziel told NFL Network after his pro day that he wasn't concerned with all the extra limelight that goes along with the quarterback position and he addressed that at the NFL Scouting Combine, too.

"Johnny Manziel is a guy. I'm from a small town of Kerrville, Texas, 20,000 people. (That gets) lost in kind of the people who make me out to be a big Hollywood guy; really just still a small-town kid," Manziel said. "Sometimes you get caught up in certain things, but at the same time continuing to learn and continuing to adapt to everything that's going on in my life. I'm not saying it's always easy, but continuing to be who I've always been is a big thing for me."

The music and attire at his pro day was unconventional, but wearing shoulder pads and a helmet is hard to view as a bad thing.

Manziel also gathered the scouts in attendance before he began throwing to thank them for coming.

"Him talking to the group was fine. I do think he was sincere. The helmet and shoulders pads … I guess the thing you have to figure out is, is this just another part of the things that happened a couple of years ago after he won the Heisman Trophy or is he just a different person as far as wanting the limelight or just wanting to prove that he can do things the right way," Zimmer said.

"I guess it maybe brings a few questions marks in. Is he going to conform to typically what the NFL is or what everyone else has done before him including what the great players in the game have done before him, or is he going to try to be the celebrity man guy that he was maybe a year-and-a-half ago?"


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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