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Projecting the Best NFL Fits for Johnny Manziel

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 8, 2014

Projecting the Best NFL Fits for Johnny Manziel

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    Now that Johnny Manziel has officially declared for the 2014 NFL draft (via Gil Brandt of NFL.com), it's time to decide which pro teams could best use his talents.

    After a wildly entertaining and exceptionally productive college career at Texas A&M, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner will take his improvisational, sometimes reckless style to the pros.

    Manziel did show vast improvement as a pocket passer in 2013, yet there'll likely be wide-ranging opinions on how he'll pan out in the NFL.

    Here are six teams with questions at the quarterback position—in no particular orderthat fit him best.

Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans' new head coach, Bill O'Brien, made a name for himself as the offensive play-caller for the New England Patriots from 2009 to 2011, during a time in which quarterback Tom Brady threw 103 touchdowns to only 29 interceptions.

    In his final season under Bill Belichick as New England's offensive coordinator, the Patriots represented the AFC in the Super Bowl, and Brady threw for more than 5,000 yards for the first time in his illustrious career with 39 touchdowns and 12 picks.

    While it's hard to peg the exact impact O'Brien had on Brady, a legendary signal-caller in the prime of his NFL playing days, one has to believe the former quarterbacks coach knows a few things about how to, well, coach quarterbacks.

    Out wide, Manziel would have veteran stalwart Andre Johnson for at least the first few years of his career and the exciting DeAndre Hopkins, Houston's first-round pick in the 2013 draft.

    On the line, Duane Brown is a former All-Pro left tackle, and Chris Myers—who'll be 33 in September 2014—is a top-flight center.

    Then there's running back Arian Foster, the master of dicing through zone blocking.

    He'll only be 28 in September, but the former undrafted-free-agent-turned-All-Pro has already logged more than 1,300 touches in his NFL career and played in only eight games this season.

    Manziel would fit with the semi-rebuilding Texans, holders of the first pick in the 2014 draft.

Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings had three first-round picks in the 2013 draft, and one was on the offensive side of the ball—wideout Cordarrelle Patterson.

    While the Tennessee product experienced a slow start to his NFL career, he exploded as a return man and bubble-screen specialist late in the season.

    He and Greg Jennings form a sound receiving contingent for whoever quarterbacks the Vikings in 2014 and beyond.

    To some, the Vikings' massive, 6'6'', 260-pound tight end, Kyle Rudolph, hasn't yet reached his full potential as a professional, but he'd be a nice security blanket for Manziel.

    Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt are two of the better tackles at their respective bookend positions, and, oh yeah, Adrian Peterson's under contract through the 2017 season.

    In all likelihood, Manziel wouldn't have a hard time developing in the NFL in Minnesota.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Manziel and Chip Kelly, a match created in football heaven, right? 

    Probably. 

    Though second-year quarterback Nick Foles exhibited surprising efficiency in Kelly's system in 2013, one has to believe the former Oregon coach would be interested in a signal-caller with more running ability.

    Foles isn't a total statue, but he isn't from the read-option mold whatsoever.

    With an assortment of screens and long passes in the offense, Manziel could make a smooth transition to the Eagles after playing the majority of his collegiate career in a spread system under Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. 

    Philadelphia might have the most agile offensive line in football and the most elusive running back in LeSean McCoy. 

    DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz and Riley Cooper would be a fine foundation of a receiving corp, and if the Eagles decide to re-sign impending free agent Jeremy Maclin, Manziel would have quite the collection of speedy weapons at his disposal to begin his NFL career.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars might be a few years away from legitimately contending in the AFC, but with a competent quarterback, they very well could compete in 2014.

    After multiple league suspensions, the future of former first-round pick Justin Blackmon is cloudy. Then again, if his most recent, season-long sanction leads to him maturing in a major way, the former Oklahoma State star could emerge as a solid No. 1 wideout, as he's shown glimpses of elite play in the past.

    Cecil Shorts has proved quite capable of being a high-volume receiver who works well on the outside and out of the slot. He caught 66 passes for 777 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.

    If Manziel were to land in Jacksonville at No. 3 overall, he'd be reunited with former Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, the team's first-round pick last year.

    With Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson serving as shifty, yards-after-the-catch screen guys, Manziel could work with the Jaguars, though it might be an somewhat arduous acclimation process.

Cleveland Browns

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    Josh Gordon is the Cleveland Browns' offensive headliner. He's a young (22) and big (6'3'', 225 pounds) wideout with deceptive speed, and a guy who led the NFL in receiving yardage despite missing two games to suspension to begin the year.

    Tight end Jordan Cameron, another youngster (25), caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013. On the line are two All-Pros, left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack.

    Manziel would step into an appealing offensive setup in Cleveland, that's for sure. 

    The running-back situation is blurry, but the Browns do have two first-round picks and two third-round picks, so one can assume it'll be addressed at some point in the upcoming draft.

    At No. 4 overall, Manziel would make plenty of sense for a quarterback-needy organization in Cleveland. 

Wild Card: Arizona Cardinals

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    The Arizona Cardinals don't pick until No. 20 in the 2014 draft, but they're a dark-horse team to be in the market for a young quarterback.

    Carson Palmer did an admirable job in Bruce Arians' downfield passing attack this season; however, he's 34 and clearly not the future of the organization.

    With Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, Manziel would have two large, above-average receiving options at his disposal to begin his NFL career.

    He might have a rough go of it playing in the defensively stingy NFC West, then again, Russell Wilson has done pretty well thus far.

    The offensive line needs some reshaping, but it'll be interesting to see if it tightens up when guard Jonathan Cooper, the team's 2013 first-round pick who missed the entire season after breaking his leg in the preseason, returns next year.

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