Prepare yourself, City of Cleveland. Johnny Football is coming to town.
The most captivating player in a draft class full of them, Johnny Manziel was selected with the 22nd overall pick by the Browns, who traded up to get the polarizing prospect. The move ended months of speculation surrounding the former Texas A&M star quarterback.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports provided the news:
The Browns have moved up http://t.co/YmbIDJqLAr— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) May 9, 2014
The Browns have selected Johnny Manziel. The wait is over— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) May 9, 2014
USA Today's Lindsay Jones commented on Manziel's future:
Mike Pettine said drafting Manziel doesn't change his plan to NOT start a rookie quarterback.— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) May 9, 2014
CNN's Rachel Nichols has Manziel's post-draft thoughts on what would have been a highly controversial destination:
Johnny Manziel on the possibility of going to Dallas: "I don't think the world could have handled that, honestly."— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 9, 2014
Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reveals where the Cowboys had Manziel rated on their draft board when they were on the clock in the first round:
Jerry admitted Manziel was the highest-rated player on the Cowboys' draft board at No. 16. Just too much invested in Romo.— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) May 10, 2014
If you fused Tony Romo with Michael Vick and then sprinkled in a little bit of Tim Tebow, the result would probably closely resemble Manziel. That's not meant as a comparison of their skill sets or to suggest what Manziel's future as a pro might look like—we're talking strictly in terms of polarizing quality.
There isn't typically much middle ground when it comes to opinions of Manziel. Football fans either love him or hate him.
Proponents of the 21-year-old quarterback will point to his electrifying nature under center. Manziel, the best dual-threat player in this draft, has a magical ability to escape pressure in the pocket and either make a play with his legs or connect with a throw on the run.
His combination of elusiveness, unbelievable instincts and rocket-like arm strength helps bear a slight resemblance to Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson. Troy Aikman, via NFL.com's Dane Brugler, made his feelings toward Manziel quite clear:
Just spoke to Troy Aikman about Johnny Manziel: "I really think he has a chance to have a special career...I'm a fan."— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 16, 2014
I'd love to have him. It takes courage to pull the ball down and reverse field and do some of the crazy things that Favre and Manziel do. There's going to be consequences when sometimes it doesn't work out. But it takes a tremendous amount of guts and courage to go make a play when there's nothing there instead of throwing the ball away.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, pundits see Manziel (5'11.75", 207 pounds) as an undersized quarterback who is unable to work inside the pocket and has too many off-field concerns to ever reach his full potential.
An offseason that has featured Manziel showing off his dunking prowess and wide-receiver-on-a-jet-ski skills, among other things, has only increased the perception that he's not mentally prepared for the rigors of the NFL.
This was an actual photo caption in a recent Sports Illustrated article: "Johnny Manziel's lady friend took a playful bite out of the NFL prospect's finger at a recent Mariners-Rangers game, but did he do more damage to his draft stock by showing up?"
The mere fact that it could even be suggested his draft stock would tumble by watching a baseball game pretty much sums up Manziel and the overreacting "hot takes" that will undoubtedly follow him throughout his career.
In five years, Johnny Manziel will be...
Mike Pettine and his staff will have to be prepared for the media circus that will follow the most interesting man in football around for 365 days a year. But if Manziel lives up to his potential on the gridiron, that will be a small price to pay for selecting the galvanizing, game-changing prospect.
There's no doubt fans will expect to see Manziel on the field sooner than later. He certainly has the personality and skill set to spark an entire fanbase. Whether he can translate that to NFL success remains to be seen, but the Browns are evidently willing to take a chance to find out.
The Browns traded out of the fourth overall spot to ultimately select cornerback Justin Gilbert with the eighth pick of the first round. With Josh Gordon to throw the ball to, Manziel will be immediately have an explosive offense at his disposal in Cleveland. He'll also seemingly be immersed in a quarterback competition, as the Browns still have former starter Brian Hoyer under contract.