Johnny Manziel may not be the number one overall pick or first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL draft. Nonetheless, Manziel’s marketability may be greater than any other player selected.
Manziel brings a spark to the NFL that is most comparable to Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin. Griffin competed with Andrew Luck for endorsements and positioning in the 2012 NFL draft. Manziel faces a similar situation in this year’s draft. He will be competing with front-runner Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville. Further, University of Central Florida’s Blake Bortles is continuing to rise on many drafts boards. However, Manziel like Griffin, is likely to have an edge in the endorsement market.
In 2012, Griffin outperformed Luck in endorsement deals. Griffin landed a coveted spot on the cover of NCAA Football 2013. Additionally, he obtained a major endorsement with Subway alongside many established athletes such as Michael Phelps and Michael Strahan, Gatorade, EvoShield, and Nissan. Griffin’s most lucrative endorsement came with Adidas.
There is no question Manziel is talented and he could be a “game changer” for an NFL team. Yet, many still question whether his talent and skills will translate into a top-notch starting NFL quarterback. Additionally, Manziel has been criticized for his off-the-field antics. In February, Darren Rovell of ESPN said, “I would say that the Nikes and the Under Armours and the [A]didases of the world can take a lot and the partying is not a problem.” Rovell was spot on. In March, Manziel landed a multi-year endorsement deal with Nike, while Adidas, New Balance, and Under Armour all fell short in their bid for Manziel’s services. The financial terms with Nike are not readily available, but Dan Parr of NFL.com noted, “Manziel’s endorsement contract will be the richest one signed by a rookie in this year’s class.”
Although Manziel’s draft stock remains in question, one thing is certain; Manziel’s Nike deal is only the beginning. Manziel has the potential to be an NFL star as he did in college when he became the first freshman in history to win the Heisman Trophy. He will continue to have opportunities for endorsements because Manziel can help brands “shake things up,” explained Rovell.