AARON JOSEFCZYK/Associated Press
2014 Projection: 3,339 yards, 23 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 495 yards rushing, 78 QB rating by Prediction Machine, via Paul Myerberg of USA Today
Cleveland Browns fans received a new sense of hope and optimism when the team traded up to select Johnny Manziel 22nd overall. The master of improvisation joins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who had success molding an effective offense around a similar quarterback in Washington, Robert Griffin III.
There are no guarantees Manziel will begin the season as the Browns' starter, as Lindsay Jones of USA Today reported. Even if he can beat out incumbent Brian Hoyer for the job, he'll have a difficult obstacle to overcome.
Star wide receiver Josh Gordon could miss the 2014 season due to his off-field actions, leaving tight end Jordan Cameron as the lone proven receiver on the roster. The rest of the receiving group is a mix of young, unproven talent and old reclamation projects such as Miles Austin and Nate Burleson.
The positive is that the Browns will rely on the run game, led by running backs Ben Tate, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. The zone-blocking scheme employed by Shanahan is meant to relieve pressure on the quarterback by setting up short third-down situations.
As exciting as Manziel can be, he'll have to learn when to force passes into coverage and when to progress to his next read.
At Texas A&M, he was in a system that often asked him to look toward star receiver Mike Evans, and if he wasn't open, Manziel was to scramble. That won't work in the NFL, especially with Manziel's frame. His risk of injury is extraordinarily high, as he tends to break the pocket, even when no pressure is near.
The projected stat line indicates a poor rookie season, as a 78 QB rating would've ranked just 28th in the league in 2013. That's below backups Matt Cassel, Kellen Clemens and Case Keenum. This hype is somewhat negative, but Manziel's transition to the NFL will not be smooth or easy, so I am buying it.