After many had speculated that the Browns would draft the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy with the fourth selection, Cleveland landed him at No. 22 after trading up.
Although he undoubtedly went later than he hoped, Manziel sounds happy to be in Cleveland in the below tweet from Fox8News:
Johnny Manziel: "the situation worked out for me, I'm in a great place,"— fox8news (@fox8news) May 9, 2014
In the end, perhaps no one should be surprised this is how it played out. Check out this tweet from ESPN Stats and Info:
Johnny Manziel goes 22 overall to the Browns. Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn went 22nd overall to the Browns as well. #CLEpick— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2014
Obviously, the past selections didn't work out well for the Browns. Besides, Manziel is used to triumphing over long odds.
So, what do we expect from the exciting signal-caller in his first year in the NFL?
Let's look at his situation. The Browns had a definite need for their quarterback of the future, but they do not have an immediate need for one.
Manziel is not likely to be the starter under center come Week 1.
Prior to the draft, USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones passed along this quote from head coach Mike Pettine on the chances of a rookie quarterback winning the starter's job over incumbent Brian Hoyer:
There will be competition, but I think it will be very difficult, based on my evaluation of this year’s draft class, it will be very difficult for anyone in this draft class to come in and beat (Hoyer) out. I really believe that.
How many games will Manziel start next regular season?
Given that Manziel is coming out of a spread offense and has to refine his skills going through his progressions and passing out of the pocket, I'm not going to argue with Pettine. Manziel will start the season on the sideline, but he won't finish it there.
This is where an underrated aspect of Manziel comes into play. He has shown the willingness and ability to mature his game.
The Browns don't figure to make the playoffs next year. They are not without hope, but coming off a four-win season and introducing another new coach, a postseason turnaround is not in the cards.
This will create the opportunity for Manziel to get valuable experience at the end of the season.
Manziel's arm talent and instinctive ability to elude pressure and then make plays are his biggest assets. This will create production and mistakes in his rookie campaign.
Manziel's Rookie Projection
Manziel will take over starting duties with four games to go in the season. I don't see him getting anything more than a couple of snaps prior to that.
Manziel will produce in those starts. With one of the NFL's best wide receivers in Josh Gordon and a solid tight end in Jordan Cameron, Manziel will have weapons to work with.
With no stability at quarterback last year, the Browns still finished 11th in the NFL in passing.
What also can't be ignored is what Rotoworld's Lance Zierlein points out:
Johnny Manziel will absolutely thrive under Kyle Shanahan. Save this tweet for eternity if you like. Kyle is best possible OC for Manziel.— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) May 9, 2014
He will have his share of rookie mistakes. Manziel has great accuracy, but he will suffer interceptions through bad reads and overaggressive throws.
Manziel will also be able to add yards with his feet, but his coaches will be stressing that he must look for the pass first.
Manziel's projected rookie stats: Four games started; 840 yards passing, six touchdowns, five interceptions; 190 yards rushing, one rushing touchdown.
Given the struggles of past drafted quarterbacks by the Browns, I have to believe the Browns faithful will take that stat line.