Everybody's freaking out over a fourth of an inch.
Johnny Manziel, the playmaking quarterback out of Texas A&M in contention for the No. 1 pick of the NFL Draft, measured at 5'11 3/4 at the NFL Combine on Friday, coming up just shy of the 6' he promised.
"I’m going to measure 6 feet — I’m 72 inches on the dot," Manziel told the Houston Chronicle earlier this week. "If they want to try to jump on my shoulders and squish me down, it’s not going to be any less than that."
One of Manziel's primary competitors for the top spot in the draft, former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, came in at a towering 6'5, 232 pounds. Teddy Bridgewater measured in a 6'2 1/8, 214 pounds. Manziel weighed 207 pounds, just under the 210 his private quarterback coach suggested to the Chronicle.
In the numbers-obsessed NFL, the fact that Manziel is under six feet -- even by that small of a margin -- is obviously being worked into a major storyline. It's no secret that teams value taller signal callers. Since 2000, there have been 11 quarterbacks 6'5 or 6'6 drafted in the first round, and the average height of a first-round signal caller is just shy of 6'4, according to Field Gulls.
Is that fourth of an inch significant? Manziel obviously doesn't think so, citing Super Bowl-winning Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as evidence that smaller, more mobile passers have a place in the league.
"I think he's kicked the door wide open," Manziel said of Wilson, who measured 5'10 5/8 at the 2012 combine. "You're seeing more guys being successful avoiding that first wave of pressure; get out and do things outside the pocket.
"Wilson does some things he's not asked to do, when things don't go exactly as scripted. He's able to extend the play. One reason they were so successful early in the Super Bowl was that he was 4-of-5 on third down and was able to continue to push the ball down the field and get them where they needed to be."
One measurement that will work in Manziel's favor is his 9 7/8" hand, which came in larger than expected. Nine inches is typically considered the minimum size for an NFL quarterback to grip and spin a ball accurately.