Jon Gruden is one of the top figures in the NFL when it comes to evaluating rookie quarterbacks before they enter the NFL Draft thanks to his wildly popular QB Camp series in which Gruden sits down and picks apart the top draft eligible quarterbacks on ESPN each year. The likes of Cam Newton and Tim Tebow amongst others have featured on the show, and it has definitely increased Gruden’s visibility leading up to the draft as someone whose opinions gain traction depending on how you feel.
While Gruden may get criticized for being a little bit too positive at times, especially on MNF where he can get damn near hyperbolic about anything and everything, he is a former Super Bowl winning coach who has a passion and love for the game that has earned him respect and popularity. Which is why his conference call today to talk about the quarterback prospects and other draft topics made a decent splash when his comments hit the wire.
Raiders insider Jerry McDonald was on the conference call and released a transcript of Gruden’s draft opinions while talking to select members of the media.
Gruden had plenty of praise for Johnny Manziel and pegged him as the quarterback he would want if he could select a passer out of the 2014 class, hyping Manziel’s dual threat capabilities that are all the rage in the NFL. Gruden also expressed his concerns on Teddy Bridgewater’s Pro Day, citing that his poor Pro Day is extremely relevant in why teams are being reported to have cooled on the Louisville QB.
Which quarterbacks would be intriguing for Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who worked under Gruden in Tampa Bay . . .
Gruden: I think Greg Olson is like a lot of NFL coaches today: you’re looking for a quarterback that can run any play that you dream up. That’s the beauty of Russell Wilson. He can run read options, speed options. He can run a west coast offense. He can run any play you dream up. You’re seeing more and more of the dual threats becoming a force in the NFL with (Colin) Kaepernick, obviously Cam Newton. You’re seeing quarterbacks being coveted that can run it, throw it, run an up-tempo style. (Blake) Bortles from Central Florida. Bortles did a lot of options, drop-back stuff in the pro-style system. I can see Olson liking Johnny Manziel. Greg Olson is a guy with tremendous imagination. I can see him liking a lot of these quarterbacks.
Thoughts on Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel . . .
Gruden:: I don’t have any concerns. I want Manziel. I realize he’s under six feet tall. Maybe he can’t see over the line. We blew that theory in the water last year with (Russell) Wilson and (Drew) Brees. I know he can learn. I spent two days with him, and I know he wants to learn. He had four different offensive coordinators at Texas A&M. He had two different head coaches. It didn’t matter. He adapted and did extremely well. This is the first Heisman Trophy winner as a freshman. In two years at Texas A&M, he had the most productive back-to-back seasons in SEC history. I don’t know what you want him to do. He threw for eight thousand, ran for two thousand, he has 93 touchdowns. All I know is I want Manziel.
The chance of Manziel slipping all the way to No. 18 and the New York Jets . . .
Gruden: If Johnny Manziel is there at No. 18, I’ll give you my cell phone number and I’ll take you out to a steak dinner.
Whether there is a clear cut No. 1 pick in the draft . . .
Gruden: To me the first pick of the draft, the sure-fire Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, I don’t know that that player is in this draft. You’re dealing with more underclassmen than I can ever remember. If you’re talking (Jadeveon) Clowney, (Johnny) Manziel, Sammy Watkins, even some of the underclassmen linemen, Greg Robinson. So it’s a crapshoot. This is not a complete body of work to evaluate. You have to use your imagination, be able to see down the road a bit. There is no sure-fire, can’t-miss No. 1 in anybody’s world, but there are some great prospects.
The possibility of over-analysis with the draft being so late this year . . .
Gruden: The longer you stir the stew, the longer you have a tendency to screw it up. This draft needs to take place quickly. We’ve had first, second and third analysis done on just about every factors from doctors to psychiatrists, the short shuttles, film study, the individual workouts and combines. I think everybody is ready to draft them.
The relevance of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s poor pro day performance . . .
Gruden: I’ve done a lot of individual workouts in my past as a receiver coach, as a quarterback coach, even as a head coach. If the player didn’t work that well for me, I didn’t move them down, I took them off our board. So if you’re not having good individual workouts, if you don’t have a good pro workout, that’s part of the evaluation process. You’re going to be moved down or potentially off some people’s boards. I’d be concerned if I were any person and I didn’t have good private workouts or I had a typically bad pro day.