After trading down from No. 4 to select cornerback Justin Gilbert during Thursday night's first round of the NFL draft, Cleveland made sure it got its man later in the round.
The Browns held the No. 26 pick stemming from their trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts during the 2013 season. Cleveland executed a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to get up to No. 22 and Johnny Football's precipitous fall down the board was finally halted.
After releasing both Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell this offseason, it was no secret that the Browns needed a quarterback. As it turns out, they came away with the best signal-caller this draft has to offer.
There are definitely questions about Manziel when it comes to his diminutive size in comparison to prototypical NFL quarterbacks as well as the likelihood of his playing style translating to the next level.
Manziel was arguably the most exciting player in college football history at Texas A&M, though, and he is already energizing a long-suffering fanbase.
According to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, Manziel's selection coincided with an immediate uptick in season ticket sales:
Within 25 minutes of Johnny Manziel pick, #Browns had sold 200 new season ticket accounts and had 300 renewals.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) May 9, 2014
Manziel obviously must have on-field success in order to sustain that increased fan interest, but it is tough not to like the situation in which he has landed.
Johnny Football has some exciting weapons at his disposal in wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron as well as a potential star at running back in the form of Ben Tate. Manziel also happens to have Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. Shanahan famously worked wonders with Robert Griffin III during his rookie season with the Washington Redskins.
Shanahan knows how to get the most out of dual-threat quarterbacks and he won't be afraid to let Manziel be who he truly is out on the field. That is key to Manziel's success, so Cleveland is a great spot for him.
Pessimism tends to rule the day in Cleveland due to the fact that the franchise hasn't truly been relevant since Bernie Kosar was under center in the 1980s. As evidenced by this tweet courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info, Manziel is faced with ending the Browns' string of failures at the quarterback position:
Johnny Manziel goes 22 overall to the Browns. Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn went 22nd overall to the Browns as well.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2014
While some questioned Manziel's character during the draft process, there is no denying the fact that he loves football and is committed to winning. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Browns general manager Ray Farmer is impressed with Manziel in that regard:
#Browns GM Ray Farmer on Manziel: "Passionate, relentless, fearless.''— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) May 9, 2014
Browns head coach Mike Pettine echoed Farmer's sentiment, per the team's official Twitter account:
Pettine on Manziel: "He's a gym rat and passionate about football." #Browns2014Draft— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 9, 2014
Manziel had to be somewhat disappointed that he fell as far as he did since it cost him quite a bit of money, but he has said all the right things since being selected by Cleveland. Manziel has never been one to back down from a challenge and seems excited to prove people wrong, per Cabot:
I truly believe Cleveland was supposed to be where I ended up. I feel right where I was meant to be. ... I believe (I will have a chip on my shoulder). What a blessing and an honor it is, but at the same time, a lot of teams passed me up, so it's just like I think with anybody, you do grow a little bit of a chip, but you try to get better and become a good football player.
That is a fantastic attitude for Manziel to have and it is also a scary thought for the teams that passed on him and will have to play against him.
Perhaps the biggest coup for Manziel and the Browns is the fact that the team is being built properly as a whole. Manziel isn't entering a dire situation since there is already talent on the roster and plenty more to come.
As pointed out by Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, the Browns picked up an extra 2015 first-round pick from the Buffalo Bills after Buffalo moved up from No. 9 to No. 4 in order to select Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins:
CLE landed my 9th overall player (Gilbert) and my 12th overall player (Manziel). Plus they picked up an extra 1st rd pick in '15.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 9, 2014
Even if the Browns aren't a playoff team this year or the decision is made for Manziel to sit and learn behind Brian Hoyer, the Browns' future is incredibly bright for the first time in an extremely long time.
It has taken a couple decades of suffering, but the Browns are finally in position to build something exciting for years to come. A franchise quarterback is the biggest missing component, and Manziel has both the skill set and the makeup necessary to fill that role.
How will Johnny Manziel fare in the NFL?
With the NFC North rival Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers on the decline and the Cincinnati Bengals perhaps heading in that direction as well, the Browns should be able to compete for a division title in short order provided Manziel pans out.
There are a lot of people who would like to see the brash Johnny Football fail, but that will further fuel him, as will the thought of building a winner in Cleveland.
Manziel is the perfect man for the job and he will leave talent evaluators wondering why they ever discounted Johnny Football.
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