A wild scenario with Arch Manning could be pending

A scenario in which Arch Manning could enter the 2026 NFL Draft without ever starting a game as the quarterback for the Texas Longhorns is explored.
Texas Longhorns quarter backs Arch Manning during spring practice at the Frank Denius practice fields in Austin, Tuesday, March 19, 2024.
Texas Longhorns quarter backs Arch Manning during spring practice at the Frank Denius practice fields in Austin, Tuesday, March 19, 2024. / Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

The most extreme of scenarios could be on the table for Texas Longhorns backup quarterback Arch Manning for the 2026 NFL Draft. Although it is still a few years away, one cannot help but theorize with a name like Manning and as highly ranked as Manning was out of high school where he would be drafted.

Where will Arch Manning be drafted in the 2026 NFL Draft?

Arch Manning drafted first or worst: The most extreme scenario sees Manning being drafted number one overall without ever starting a game at the college level. However, a lot will change between now and then. On the other end of the spectrum, Manning could also end up as an undrafted free agent.

What is the quarterback situation for the Texas Longhorns in 2024?

In For the 2024 college football season, Manning will be entering his redshirt freshman year as the backup to Quinn Ewers who will be the starting quarterback for the Longhorns for the second year in a row. Last year, head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns were led by Ewers to an 11-1 regular season record and college football playoff appearance.

With Ewers’ success in 2023, the Longhorns probably will not take a large step back, if a step at all given to the talent surrounding Ewers and his experience now going through a full season as the starting quarterback. With that being said, Ewers is entering his junior year as the Longhorns starting quarterback, after transferring and redshirting from Ohio State his freshman year.

Why would Quinn Ewers return to play for the Texas Longhorns in 2025?

Ewers' Draft stock falls: Although Ewers is projected to be a first round draft pick in the 2025 NFL Draft this coming April, a whole season of football still needs to be played. And that season could effect Ewers’ draft stock, which is one reason he could opt to come back to Austin for another year.

Ewers wants to stay in college: Another reason is for the simple fact that Ewers likes Austin, his teammates with the Longhorns and being around college football. Although the NFL has more money on the table, players have opted to stay in the college game before despite their high draft projection- one of these players being former Tennessee Volunteers quarterback and Arch’s uncle, Peyton Manning.

NIL money talks: With players able to make income at the college level now off of their name, image and likeness, this makes it a bit less tempting for someone like Ewers to jump ship to the NFL and stay around the college game a bit longer. Ewers is one of the top earning college athletes in the NIL space. According to On3’s most updated statistics on this, Ewers’ NIL valuation is 1.9 Million, ranking him sixth amongst all college athletes.

What happens with Arch Manning if Quinn Ewers returns to the Texas Longhorns in 2025?

College football players are eligible to enter the NFL Draft after three seasons. For Manning, his third would be after the 2025 season. Given his ranking of number one nationally in the high school class of 2023 according to On3, combined with his presumed improvement for the Longhorns even as the backup quarterback, Manning could decide to make the leap to the NFL.

In the Longhorns’ spring game this past April, Manning put on a show, showing that he was coming along as a college quarterback. So another option to think about if Ewers comes back is Manning opting to transfer.

This whole scenario I dive into on The Dawg Show Podcast. But being realistic, the chances of this happening are slim.

What will probably happen is Ewers goes pro after this season, leaving Manning as first in line as the starting quarterback for the Longhorns. But the scenario of Ewers staying is at least something of intrigue.

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