As day one of the 2014 NFL draft wound down, it seemed as though the teams needing a quarterback were content to wait until another day to find their man. Up until the 22nd pick, only one quarterback had been taken. Blake Bortles may not have been a stretch for the first quarterback off the board but few saw him going at #3 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pick by pick went by as Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater sat patiently hoping that their first day hot streak hadn't went cold. Oakland, Tampa Bay, Minnesota had passed and as the Dallas Cowboys went offensive line, it was becoming apparent that Manziel was not as valuable as once though.
If the two trade deal early on wasn't bold enough, the Cleveland Browns made a move at #22 that left everyone suspecting something big was up. Philadelphia Eagles were rumored to have interest in Manziel and the Browns obviously wanted to make a hasty move to get the quarterback. Had the Eagles wanted Johnny they would not have made the trade in the first place and he could have fell to them at #26. The trade involved giving up their 26th and 83rd pick to get the Eagle's 22nd. The Browns must have had plans to get Manziel all along but somehow knew he would slip later in round one. If they had wanted a guarantee to get him, they would have pulled the trigger at #4.
Johnny Football died last night and Johnny Cleveland was born. A polarizing quarterback in college who will undoubtedly be just as entertaining at the pro level. Johnny won the Heisman Trophy as a true freshman in 2012 and is a proven winner in college amassing a record of 19-6 at Texas A&M. Keep in mind that he accounted for nearly 10,000 total yards of offense in two years in the toughest defensive conferences college football has to offer. His stats put him in contention for being one of the best college football players ever. What is questionable is whether or not his style of play will translate to the NFL.
I don't believe he will be another Tim Tebow. I see him more like a Michael Vick. He has a better arm than Tebow and will have much better offensive weapons than he had in Denver. The key to making this work is to have a solid running game that Johnny can lean on for support. This is a similar formula in action in Seattle and San Fransisco with similar improvisational quarterbacks. Ben Tate was a good addition at running back but the team must find a young runner in the next few days of the draft. Brian Hoyer now acts as bridge quarterback on the team as Manziel becomes NFL ready. The fear here is that as soon as Hoyer falters, fans will be chanting for Johnny Cleveland. This may happen long before he is ready to play and may spell disaster for his development. Even worse would be if Hoyer ends up being great, picking up Manziel would come off as a wasted pick. Let the quarterback drama begin.
Isn't that why the Cleveland Browns drafted Manziel in the first place? All eyes will be focused on the Browns and that means more dollar signs. As you read this, orders are already being made for #2 jerseys. Whether you like this pick or even the team, everyone will be watching when Johnny Cleveland makes his first start. I don't know if he will be a boom or a bust but I do know that the story will be an exciting one to watch. Overall, they land two big positional needs in the first round. Taking arguable the best cornerback and quarterback. This team is a team with depth now and will win more than four games which is good enough for me, at least for now. Give it two or three seasons and Cleveland will be in the playoffs whether Manziel pans out or not.