Updates from Monday, March. 3
Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal provides an update on the Cleveland Browns' interaction with Johnny Manziel during the combine:
#Browns HC Mike Pettine said team did not conduct formal interview with Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel at combine.— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) March 4, 2014
Updates from Monday, Feb. 10
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports when fans and scouts should expect Johnny Manziel to throw during his March Pro Day:
Johnny Manziel won't throw at Ags pro day march 5. He will throw on March 27 at A&M.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) February 10, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, Feb. 4
Russ Lande of Sports on Earth has an update on Johnny Manziel's draft stock:
According to trusted sources, the Texans are initially leaning towards taking either Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel with the top pick. Although Manziel would obviously be the choice of owner Bob McNair, O'Brien is not sold that Manziel possesses the work ethic and intangibles necessary to be the face of a franchise.
Updates from Sunday, Jan. 19
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reports one team perceived to be in need of a franchise quarterback is willing to trade up in the 2014 draft to select Johnny Manziel:
[Adam Gase's] star seems poised to only grow, and the Browns remain very much in transition. However, they do have game-breaking receiver Josh Gordon, they are willing to trade up to land Johnny Manziel in the draft if need be, sources said, and have an owner, Jimmy Haslam, who is committed to spending their abundant cap space to try to win quickly.
Of course, none of that might be enough to convince Gase or [Dan] Quinn.
Updates from Wednesday, Jan. 15
Mel Kiper of ESPN has released his first mock draft of 2014 and has Johnny Manziel as the first-overall selection (via SportsCenter on Twitter):
Gil Brandt of NFL.com later released his top 50 prospects for the 2014 class and ranked Manziel No. 1 overall, stating that he is "a unique athlete who produced 10,000 yards of offense in two seasons with the Aggies. He has great vision at quarterback."
Texas A&M Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel is heading to the NFL after two amazing college seasons. Given his playmaking ability, moxie and improvement as a passer, he figures to be a top selection in the 2014 draft.
Rumors are naturally buzzing about which team might land the young man known as "Johnny Football," and multiple reports have now linked him to the Cleveland Browns.
La Canfora noted that the Browns covet Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn as the successor to one-and-done Rob Chudzinski. While acknowledging that was a long shot, the Browns know getting Manziel is a real possibility with the No. 4 overall pick:
Team officials realizes it may be a longshot to land Malzahn, who nearly won a national title at Auburn and is very happy there, but his offensive innovation and the style of offense he runs is very much in line with what the team would like to put in place (the Browns are also very high on quarterback Johnny Manziel, sources said, who would be a perfect fit in a Malzahn offense).
The Malzahn-Manziel pairing rolls off the tongue—even if it's rooted in fantasy.
And what if the Browns then drafted someone like Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews and Malzahn's former running back Tre Mason in Round 2? Four M's! The Browns are all fixed!
OK, back to reality.
Focusing on Manziel, he would be just the breath of life Cleveland's franchise needs, but would also be the Browns' 20th different starting quarterback since their reentry into the NFL in 1999.
This infamous jersey illustrates the instability that has gone on in Cleveland at the most important position:
NFL.com's Chase Goodbread weighed in on the possibility on Monday, Jan. 13, implying that Manziel would likely require a coach to tailor the offense to his strengths:
If it's a coach rooted in the traditional pro-style offense, he'll have to install some offensive elements that cater to Manziel's skill set, be it more shotgun, more rollouts, or even some occasional zone-read option. If it's a coach more open to the zone-read scheme, care will have to be taken not to expose Manziel to too much physical punishment.
Manziel is a bit undersized (6'1", 210 pounds) but can make all the throws required of an NFL quarterback, and he has an uncanny ability to evade pressure in scrambling situations in addition to being a lethal open-field runner.
A player who puts up the type of numbers Manziel did against SEC competition figures to be a success in the pros. Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports shares some of the numbers:
How about the numbers Johnny Manziel put up over the last two years Passing yds 7,820, TD 63 & Pic 22. Rushing yds 2,169 & 30 TDs. #TexasA&M— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) January 8, 2014
It is possible that Manziel could be chosen before the Browns get a crack at him, but since Cleveland has the No. 26 overall pick and an early second-rounder, it has the ammunition to trade up if need be.
The Browns' new brain trust of CEO Joe Banner, general manager Mike Lombardi and owner Jimmy Haslam hasn't been afraid of bold moves thus far.
Chudzinski was fired after one 4-12 season with a turbulent-as-ever QB situation and running back Trent Richardson being traded to the Indianapolis Colts at the beginning of the season.
Drafting a polarizing prospect like Manziel would be another gutsy acquisition, but one that could pay massive dividends.
However, the Jacksonville Jaguars—a franchise in desperate need of a quarterback and of selling tickets—hold the third overall selection. Few players could galvanize a franchise more than Manziel, so GM Dave Caldwell will likely be looking hard if Manziel is still on the board.
Known Johnny Football enthusiast Skip Bayless believes the Houston Texans may even take Manziel No. 1 overall, keeping him in the Lone Star State to learn under a QB guru in new head coach Bill O'Brien:
Texans would forever regret not taking Texas kid Manziel but if they don't, imagine Johnny Football as an OAKLAND RAIDER.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 9, 2014
It sounds like the Oakland Raiders aren't much of a possibility at fifth overall, considering the information leaking out about the Browns holding Manziel in high regard.
Who should be the first QB taken in the 2014 NFL draft?
So there are several reputable sources who believe Cleveland is seeking Johnny Football to finally turn things around, and several prominent draft personalities believe he's destined to land there as well.
The 2014 draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City is a long way off on May 8, but the speculation and rumors surrounding one of the biggest college football stars in history shouldn't cease before then.