NFP Prospect Focus: Sean Mannion

Going into the 2014 college season, the Pac-12 had three quarterbacks coming back to play who had a lot of notoriety based on their 2013 seasons. The three were Brett Hundley from UCLA, Marcus Mariota from Oregon, and Sean Mannion from Oregon State. Of the three, the only one who really improved in 2014 was Mariota and he of course led his team to the National Championship game. In my opinion, both Hundley and Mannion either leveled off or even regressed.

When scouting players, especially quarterbacks, you look for constant improvement in their play, as it won’t get any easier once they reach the NFL. Mannion’s season was a disappointment over the way he played in 2013. Sean Mannion is a fifth-year senior and a four-year starter for Oregon State. He redshirted as a true freshman and then became the starter early in his redshirt freshman season.

It wasn’t too long ago that Mannion possessed prototypical NFL quarterback size. He measures 6054 – 229. With most teams looking for more mobile quarterbacks, we aren’t seeing as many quarterbacks with that type of size any longer. Mannion has small hands (9”) and for a 6’5 guy", those are really small. The small hands may be a reason why he doesn’t throw a consistently tight ball. As an athlete, Mannion is very average. He shows adequate foot quickness but has no speed. I would estimate he runs 4.90 or slower when at the Combine. He is not a quick-twitch type and has no explosiveness in his movement. Seeing him at the Senior Bowl, part of the reason may be his under-developed body. He lacks muscular definition and that maybe why he isn’t very explosive. He doesn’t look like a guy who has spent much time in the weight room. When you look at the numbers, Mannion’s best season was 2013. That year he completed 400 of 603 passes for 66%, 4662 yards, 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. This past year, he was 282 of 453 for 62%, 3164 yards, 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In fairness, his supporting cast wasn’t quite as good in 2014.

Mannion plays from both a pro set and a spread. When under center, he shows adequate set up quickness. He is not really mobile in the pocket and is just average at keeping plays alive with his feet. He lacks a top feel for pass rushers and takes a lot of sacks. His rushing total for his career is -804 yards! He also turns the ball over too much for that style of offense. In the Oregon State offense, Mannion goes through a progression and flashes the ability to go from 1 to 2 to 3 and back to 1. He has adequate field vision and adequate decision making skills. He has a good throwing motion with adequate delivery quickness. When he sets his feet and steps into a throw, he shows good arm strength and fairly good accuracy. The problem is, he doesn’t always do a good job setting his feet and this causes his accuracy and ball placement problems. I have seen him make some excellent throws, but I have also seen some throws that aren’t close to being on target.

With his lack of mobility, he doesn’t handle pressure well and makes a lot of off balance throws. One thing I have learned in this business is that quarterbacks who are inaccurate and can’t handle pressure well in college, don’t get better in the NFL. While Mannon flashes being able to make all the necessary NFL throws, that’s all it is, flashes. There is no consistency from throw to throw and game to game.

While I recognize the good things that Mannion can do, I don’t ever see him as a starting NFL quarterback. I see him as a backup at best who can get a club out of a few games if he has to play. There are some clubs that won’t draft a quarterback with that type of talent. Their philosophy is if you don’t see an eventual starter, then don’t draft him. Other clubs are the opposite and feel they can develop a player into a quality backup.
Because of the difference in philosophies clubs have, it’s difficult to figure when Mannion will get drafted. Going into the Combine, I see a guy who will be drafted in the third day. He will be a club's third quarterback in 2015 and has a chance to ascend to the number two spot in his second year.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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