John Elway on Johnny Manziel: 'He's a great little player'

John Elway apologized and said he didn't mean it, but when he opined Friday that Johnny Manziel "is a great little player," the size issue came to the forefront again at the NFL draft combine.

The Hall of Fame quarterback and Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations as well as general manager, chuckled after his sizable slip of the lip.

"I think he's a great little player," Elway said Friday when asked his opinion of Manziel, who measured 5-foot-11¾ inches and weighed 210 pounds, nearly 15 more than when he played at Texas A&M. "I don't say 'little,' I shouldn't say 'little.' I'm sorry."

While many draft experts pointed to Manziel's additional weight and that he's basically the same size as Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Saints quarterback Drew Brees -- both Super Bowl winners and the two shortest starters in the NFL at 5-10 and 6-0, respectively -- Elway, who is 6-3, discussed what could be a positive and a negative.

"I think his No. 1 quality is his competitive nature and wanting to win," Elway said, pointing to Manziel's mobility and ability to make all the throws you see in the pros. "In that position you have to have that. That's what makes him tick."

But his scrambling ability and penchant for trying to turn busted plays into big gains could be a problem in the NFL. Last season, Manziel was sent to the sidelines on a few occasions, missing a few plays here and a series there, with minor injuries.

In the NFL, taking open-field hits from linebackers and safeties while on the move often leads to players missing games, not just series.