I suppose I should explain a few things first. For starters, I don't see the Houston Texans selecting Manziel. Bill O'Brien is more likely to opt to build around a more traditional pocket passer and will either select Teddy Bridgewater or go the best-player route and take Jadeveon Clowney.
The latter is a distinct possibility—Texans owner Bob McNair is very high on Clowney, calling him a "once-in-every-10-years physical specimen" on the team's official site.
When will Manziel be drafted?
And no, I don't think the St. Louis Rams will select him either. Rather, I think the Rams will almost surely trade that pick and continue to stockpile selections. They don't really need either a quarterback or defensive end, and general manager Les Snead already told Peter King of the MMQB that the team would be willing to move the pick.
You can bet teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings may all take that bait to get to No. 2 and take Manziel. And right now, it's looking like the Browns are the most likely suitor.
King wrote two weeks ago, "I hear Cleveland really likes Johnny Manziel." Jason La Canfora of CBS heard the same, noting, "The Browns are also very high on quarterback Johnny Manziel." There's also this, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
And this, from Bruce Feldman of CBS:
Of course, this could all be a smoke screen from Cleveland. The team doesn't even have a coach, after all. What it does have, however, are two first-round picks, making it a logical trade partner for the St. Louis Rams, who could end up with the No. 4, No. 13 and No. 26 pick.
Now, there are surely some folks out there that will feel Manziel isn't worth such a high pick, or that he won't be a top-five pick at all. But if all the buzz out there is to be believed, Manziel is starting to enter near-certain status as a top-five talent.
Gil Brandt certainly thinks as much, as he told SiriusXM:
One can make a very strong argument that Manziel is the better prospect than Bridgewater, according to the NFL on ESPN Twitter account:
Manziel is also a pretty common top-five pick in mock drafts. Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated has him going No. 3 to the Jags. Dane Brugler of CBS has him going No. 4 to Cleveland, while Rob Rang has him going No. 5 to Oakland.
And Bleacher Report's Matt Miller gathered the following intel on Johnny Football:
With Manziel officially in the draft, NFL scouts can speak more freely about his draft stock. One AFC West scout told me that Manziel would be a top-10 pick, and probably top five. Another former NFL front office executive likened Manziel to a cross between "Russell Wilson and Brett Favre." That might seem like hyperbole, but Manziel is highly regarded among scouts and executives who have bought in on the mobile quarterback trend.
The point is this—if a team really wants Manziel, it's going to have to trade up to either No. 1 or No. 2 to select him. Otherwise, another team will likely do the same. Since I don't think the Texans will take him, I firmly expect Manziel to be the second overall pick.
And I won't be surprised in the least if he's posing with a Browns jersey on draft day.