Manziel has a unique skill set—and one of the most interesting skill sets of any player in the draft. He's an extraordinarily athletic quarterback who moves well in and out of the pocket. He has a big arm and high football IQ, but scouts often question his pocket presence and ability to succeed in an offense that doesn't cater to him running the ball.
All players need the right situations to succeed, but Manziel really needs to be in the right place to find success out of the gate. Luckily, there are three teams selecting high up in the draft that actually represent good fits for the former Heisman winner.
Each team offers different things, but all three are good fits.
Houston Texans (No. 1)
New head coach Bill O'Brien has previously dealt with pocket passers like Tom Brady in New England, so it seems strange at first to envision Manziel taking snaps in O'Brien's offense. That said, the supporting cast in Manziel would make him less of a playmaker and more of an orchestrator. That's an ideal role for a rookie coming out of college.
Houston has a strong offense in place, aside from the quarterback position. Arian Foster is an All-Pro running back, Andre Johnson is one of the best wideouts in the game and Owen Daniels is an above-average tight end when healthy.
Throw in a pretty good offensive line, and Manziel appears to have the weapons to succeed offensively. The defense is really what makes this a great fit, however.
Despite earning the No. 1 pick in the draft, Houston had an incredible defense. Headlined by star defensive end J.J. Watt, the Texans' defense stifled opposing offenses. It was the play of their quarterbacks—Matt Schaub and Case Keenum—that really hurt the overall success of the team.
If Manziel goes to Houston, all he'll have to do is put up a couple of touchdowns per game to keep his team in it. That's an ideal situation for any quarterback.
Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 3)
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a team in complete disarray. While that's not great for Manziel's aspirations of winning right away, it does mean that he'd at least be given full control of the offense from Day 1.
Manziel's ability to improvise and run around in the pocket would captivate a Jacksonville fanbase that has recently had to struggle through watching Blaine Gabbert get sacked and throw interceptions. Now they could have an exciting face of the franchise.
Don Banks of SI.com points out, however, that Manziel might not be thrilled to play in Jacksonville:
I've also heard that Manziel himself isn't wild about the idea of landing in Jacksonville, one of the NFL's smaller markets, and that the Jaguars would not be his first choice of employers. It's not a preference based on people, only location. But Manziel doesn't get to choose his new workplace address, and quarterback-needy Jacksonville remains very much a possibility as his ultimate destination.
Banks mentions the fact that Manziel cannot choose where he plays—which is true—so I wouldn't get too caught up with this rumor. Jacksonville won't pass him over just because there's talk he won't like it in sunny Florida.
The team is certainly rebuilding and will go through some struggles, but Manziel gives them the type of player who can attract talent to the team. Manziel would have to realize that he wouldn't be the missing piece in Jacksonville; he'd be the first piece.
Cleveland Browns (No. 4)
Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine told Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today that Manziel will be considered at No. 4 overall on Thursday night: "He’ll be in the discussion at four. We met on it again this morning. I think it is very fluid."
The Browns haven't been the ideal destination for rookies over the past several drafts, but this year is a little different. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron broke out in a huge way this past year. That happened with inconsistent quarterback play. Imagine throwing a guy like Manziel into that offense, with the expectation that he'd be the starter for the next decade.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has a 'love affair' with Johnny Manziel http://t.co/5bnGTNSxQv— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) May 5, 2014
Ben Tate was also brought aboard to be the team's running back. While he only has starting experience from his days in Houston when Arian Foster was injured, he has shown the ability to gain yardage consistently. A guy like Ohio State's Carlos Hyde could be in play for Cleveland later on in the draft as well.
Defensively, the Browns are on the upswing and will be a better unit this season than they were last.
The offensive potential of having explosive guys like Gordon, Cameron, Tate and Manziel in the same offense is scary, though, and that's the biggest draw here.