Regardless of which side one might be on the Johnny Football debate, no one can argue that his debut was disconcerting and painful to watch. The 22 year-old prodigy completed 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards, throwing for 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, posting a QB rating of 27.3.
Should Cleveland be concerned with their 1st Round QB selection? History tells us maybe.
Since the 1989 NFL draft, 58 quarterbacks have been selected in the first round. Compared to the other 57, Manziel’s debut as a starter ranks as the 7th worst among quarterbacks drafted in the last 25 years, with a QB rating of 27.3.
Only Brandon Weeden, Alex Smith, Dan McGwire, Andre Ware, Jim Druckenmiller, and Trent Dilfer had worse starts. Weeden is still young while, McGwire, and Ware all had short, unremarkable careers while Dilfer had a 12 year career as a journeyman QB, highlighted by a Super Bowl victory and one Pro Bowl selection. Undoubtedly, Smith has had a solid stint in San Francisco and is currently experiencing a Pro Bowl resurgence as Kansas City’s starting quarterback. In short, three QBs with worse debut ratings fizzled, one had a pretty good career, and one has had a solid career so far.
On the other hand, many other quarterbacks had better starts than Manziell and went on to have unremarkable careers. A starting debut is not a measure of how good one's career will be. Nothing is guaranteed. As with any position, career longevity is not guaranteed. The fact of the matter is that majority of 1st Round QBs will last less than 10 seasons in the NFL. Majority will not go to a Pro Bowl. Majority will not win a Superbowl. Majority will not have a Peyton Manning like career.
Johnny Manziel could be the next Joe Montana, the next Ryan Leaf, the next Trent Dilfer or the next Tim Tebow.