Forget the rumor that Chip Kelly is interested in Johnny Manziel.
The second-year Eagles coach confirmed Monday that he thinks very highly of the former Heisman winner quarterback who’s nicknamed “Johnny Football.”
Responding to a question about a rumor that the Eagles would consider drafting Manziel, Kelly first said, “We have an interest in anybody that’s draft eligible this year.”
Kelly went on to discuss his affinity for the former Texas A&M quarterback, who once committed to Oregon as a high school football star when Kelly was the head coach of the Ducks. Manziel eventually backed out out to attend A&M.
Manziel’s strong, accurate arm and mobility would have blended into Kelly’s spread college offense.
“When I coached at Oregon he was tailor made for it,” Kelly said. “He broke my heart. I love the kid. I think he’s a hell of a football player.”
The Eagles have the 22nd overall pick in the first round, which is next Thursday. The 6-foot, 207-pound Manziel is considered one of the draft’s top quarterbacks, but he’s also one of the most polarizing prospects in the entire draft.
Several pundits have Manziel going in the top five, but several others have Manziel falling out of the first round. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network recently said Manziel’s unique skill set makes him hard to evaluate and to compare and contrast with the other quarterback prospects.
Peter King, of MMQB, wrote recently that a source told him that a rumor is circulating that the Eagles are discussing a move up in the draft to take Manziel, but King also wrote that “someone who would know better” told him that “it absolutely won’t happen.”
Kelly’s record-setting offense at Oregon usually centered on mobile quarterbacks, but he made the change last year from Mike Vick to Nick Foles and is building his roster with Foles in mind as his starter, so it would be more than mildly surprising if Kelly either traded up for Manziel or even used the 22nd overall pick on him.
Manziel certainly has the traits Kelly has preferred in quarterbacks. Two years ago, as a freshman, Manziel became the only player in NCAA history to have 5,000 total yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season and became the first freshman to win the Heisman.
But Manziel also had some character issues during his time in college, including a half-game suspension for an NCAA rules violation and being dismissed as counselor at the Manning Passing Academy for oversleeping and missing meetings.