It all worked out perfectly. Johnny Manziel fell to No. 16 in the 2014 NFL draft, and the Dallas Cowboys selected ... Zack Martin, an offensive tackle from Notre Dame.
The NFL's official Twitter account reported the pick shortly after the announcement:
The selection came much to the chagrin of Johnny Football, as Bleacher Report notes:
With the No. 16 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select… Zack Martin. Sorry, Johnny. pic.twitter.com/Tdl3LAX82V— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 9, 2014
Martin was projected as a first-round selection in a multitude of mock drafts, but didn't come in with quite the same hype as Manziel.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports agrees with the choice for Dallas:
Smart, smart pick by the #Cowboys. Martin is going to be a multi-Pro Bowler— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) May 9, 2014
Meanwhile, Adam Schefter of ESPN questions where Manziel would fit in the remainder of the first round:
Dallas takes Zach Martin, passes Johnny Manziel. Where to now??— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2014
While it wasn't the sexiest pick or the one that every NFL writer wanted to see, picking Martin was a safe selection for the Cowboys. And apparently the fanbase was at ease with the selection, as Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe points out:
Cowboys fans seem relieved. Except the guy who wants a drink. He punched the seat.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) May 9, 2014
After not selecting an offensive tackle for much of his tenure as the owner of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones has been in love with selecting the big men in recent years.
In fact, the last few drafts have been flooded with linemen for Dallas, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Zack Martin is 3rd OT taken by Cowboys in common draft era; most recently took Tyron Smith in 2011 (9th overall) #DALpick— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2014
3 of the Cowboys last 4 first round picks have been offensive linemen #DALpick— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2014
What Martin brings to the Cowboys is more protection for Tony Romo. It also secures a spot for the quarterback for the foreseeable future with no pressure behind him.
As for Manziel, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN put a tag on the quarterback that no prospect wants:
I'm just tweeting to make sure my man @RealSkipBayless is okay. Can't believe Dallas passed on Manziel. This is getting bad. Manziel is Geno— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 9, 2014
Should the Cowboys have taken Manziel?
Dallas now heads into the season with hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Manziel might have pushed Romo to work harder, Martin adds protection for the unpredictable franchise quarterback.
Given the current situation in the NFC East and the unpredictability that comes with it, the Cowboys could once again contend without Mr. Football. The excitement of Manziel on the sidelines might have been great for Dallas fans, but a postseason appearance means much more.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.