Jon Gruden: 'I want Manziel'

Johnny Manziel might be the most polarizing quarterback in next week’s NFL draft, but he has a fan in former Oakland Raiders coach-turned-ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden.

And if Gruden was still coaching an NFL team?

“I don’t have any concerns,” Gruden said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “I'm a Manziel -- I don’t know what the word I should use is -- advocate, proponent. 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 Raiders hold the No. 5 overall pick, and though they did acquire Matt Schaub to be the starting quarterback for the next two years at least, their QB-of-the-future situation is murky at best.

Manziel has visited the Raiders' complex, as has Central Florida’s Blake Bortles and Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage. Oakland has also had reported meetings with Fresno State’s Derek Carr, San Jose State’s David Fales, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Clemson’s Tahj Boyd.

But taking Manziel and all that his celebrity entails would seemingly work against the Raiders’ mission after acquiring Schaub. Fans would want to see Manziel immediately, or as soon as Schaub, who needs to get his confidence back after a down year in Houston, throws his first interception.

None of that, though, matters much to Gruden, from afar. Even if Manziel is lacking in some areas.

“He has no experience coming out of the huddle really, handling the pass protections, doing some of the things that you've seen some of the conventional pro quarterbacks do,” he said of Manziel. “It's going to be a huge adjustment for him. It might not happen for him by opening day.

“But I'm convinced that he will learn it. He will excel at whatever you ask him to do. But, remember, he did redshirt at Texas A&M. Maybe he needs a redshirt year in pro football. I'm not going to say that's going to happen or that's a certainty. But it will be an adjustment for Manziel making the adjustment as a young player at this position at the next level. But I'm sure he can do it.”