One of the most intriguing prospects in recent history will hear his name called at some point in the first round of the NFL draft. If the Jacksonville Jaguars are smart, they will not let Johnny Manziel get away from them.
The Jaguars come into the draft with the No. 3 overall pick behind only the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams. While anything can happen once the clock starts on May 8, neither of these teams appear likely to draft a quarterback with their picks.
As a result, Jacksonville should have a tough choice when the team is up. It can draft a pass-rusher or receiver to help the rebuilding process, or it can take an elite talent at quarterback to help right away. When you think about it, this should be an obvious decision.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that the buzz states that the Jaguars are looking to draft the talented passer:
While it is tough to trust any rumors that come out shortly before the draft, it would truly be a smart pick for Jacksonville.
Manziel is someone who can step in immediately and bring wins to a franchise that has not seen much of that for some time. The organization has not had a winning season since 2007 and has only totaled 11 wins in the past three years. For those keeping score at home, 11 wins are what the Indianapolis Colts equaled in 2012 after finishing with the worst record in football a year earlier.
Turnarounds are possible in the NFL and the Jaguars are doing a good job of building toward the future. However, they will not win too many games without a quarterback. The squad has finished in the bottom five of the league in quarterback rating in each of the past three years, showing it is time to make a change.
It would be a complete embarrassment if the team wastes another season with Chad Henne under center.
On the other hand, Manziel could change things in a hurry. The former Heisman winner has greatly improved as a passer while also showcasing the unique ability to make plays with his legs. No matter who is around him, the quarterback has shown a knack for finding ways to move the football down the field.
General manager Dave Caldwell also admitted that Manziel is the most pro-ready passer in the class, telling Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union, "Johnny [Manziel] would probably be the one guy you could plug in there sooner rather than later just because his style of play isn’t going to change much from Year 1 to Year 2."
However, it is the words of offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch that really show why this would be a great fit. Back in January, Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com broke down why Manziel would be a great fit for the Jaguars while quoting Fisch in saying:
I get excited when they [quarterbacks] scramble. I think guys need to scramble. I think quarterbacks need to get first downs with their legs as well as their arms. I encourage scrambling.
I encourage throwing it up and trying to get pass interferences and I encourage scrambling because I think both of those things happen in the NFL. Take a chance. When you have a chance to launch one, launch one. When you have a chance to run, run, because yards are hard to come by.
Manziel can scramble better than anyone in the class and almost anyone who has come through the draft in years. Michael Vick is really the only person who can compare to what the Texas A&M star can do on the field.
The Jaguars have an improving offensive line—which will get better with a full year from Luke Joeckel—but it is still far from the best in the league. No matter who is under center, he will need to find a way to avoid pressure and extend plays. We have seen throughout his college career that Manziel can do this as well as anyone.
Even without Justin Blackmon, the Jaguars have enough downfield weapons in Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders and Mike Brown for a quarterback like this to utilize and turn into a successful offense.
This is a big reason that Bleacher Report's Matt Miller thinks that this would be a great fit:
Manziel will make some mistakes, but there is little doubt he will improve the offense immediately. He also is determined to make himself better down the line. He recently told reporters, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com:
I see there's room for me to improve, but to say I'm just a backyard-football quarterback, I don't think you do what I did in college and do some of those things [with that style]. I don't think that's extremely fair. I hear it, but for me, I know it's all about my work ethic and my will to get better. That's very alive and inside me.
I don't want to be what I was in college. Obviously, I want to be better.
Considering how good he is now with the motivation to improve, Manziel could end up being one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
However, there is another factor that makes the popular quarterback a worthwhile selection for Jacksonville. As Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel notes, Manziel could bring some excitement to the franchise:
Too many coaches and GMs seem to forget that the ultimate goal of sports is to entertain the masses. And, make no mistake about it, Johnny Football is entertaining. He's exciting. He's charismatic. He's cocky. He's fun. He's different.
With one draft pick, the Jaguars could go from the most irrelevant franchise in the league to the most interesting.
According to ESPN, Jacksonville ranked 27th in the NFL in attendance percentage in 2013. That is certain to rise with Manziel on the roster.
The Jaguars have been more or less irrelevant for the past few years in the NFL. They are not winning games and they have struggled to even gain headlines. Manziel would change both of these problems.
Therefore, Jacksonville should not hesitate to draft the quarterback if he is available with the No. 3 pick.
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