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Manziel still undecided about leaving Texas A&M early for NFL

Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel looks to throw the ball as he is pressured by Duke Blue Devils defensive end Justin Foxx, left, during the first quarter of the Chick-fil-a Bowl Dec. 31 in Atlanta. USA TODAY Sports

By Derek Harper, Sports Xchange

Johnny Manziel has long been expected to forego his final two years of eligibility and enter the 2014 NFL Draft, but the Texas A&M quarterback told ESPN he is still undecided about whether to return to the Aggies for next season.

Manziel intends to meet with his family this week before making a final decision. Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for this year’s draft.

Manziel was in Pasadena, Calif. for Monday night’s BCS title game between Auburn and Florida State.

“I want to make the right decision that’s best for me and my family,” Manziel told ESPN.

Manziel is currently the No. 8-rated overall player eligible this year, according to ratings. He is likely to be a top 10 selection should he elect to leave school, but the quarterback class received a strong boost with juniors Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles announcing they will forego their final years of eligibility.

Bridgewater has been’s top-rated quarterback since May, but Bortles shot to the top of analyst Dane Brugler’s Mock Draft after announcing his decision. Fellow analyst Rob Rang projects Manziel going to the Oakland Raiders with the fifth pick, but only lists Johnny Football No. 17 on his Big Board.

Whenever he elects to enter the NFL, Manziel will certainly be one of the most polarizing prospects. While it only takes one team with a top 10 selection to fall in love with Manziel, there are many others who will have concerns about his arm strength, ability to translate his game to the NFL and Manziel’s lengthy history of off-field distractions.

Manziel led Texas A&M to a dramatic comeback victory over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve in what most expected to be his swan song with the Aggies. Teammate and fellow redshirt sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans announced he will forego his final two years of eligibility, but Manziel has taken his time before making an official decision.

If Manziel elects to stay in college, he could face even steeper competition in the 2015 class, when Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan will all be coming off their junior seasons — and that’s just in the Pac-12.