The future is now for the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland ran out a number of quarterbacks last season. Its most successful starter, Brian Hoyer, went 3-0 with five touchdowns and a 59.4 percent completion percentage. But he's 28 years old with very little upside at this point. What you see is what you get.
And then there's Johnny Football.
He's 21 years old with loads of untapped potential. The sky is the limit with the young signal-caller. At Texas A&M last season, Manziel notched 37 touchdowns and racked up 4,114 yards through the air.
Scott Petrak of The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram noted that Manziel is already picking up yards in camp:
#Browns Johnny Manziel makes good back-shoulder throw to Chandler Jones with Justin Gilbert in coverage.— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) July 26, 2014
While the Browns are in no way a big-time contender this season, starting Manziel over Hoyer is what must be done for this team to begin its progression. Hoyer is a very good reserve quarterback, but he's not worthy of starting over a player who will benefit from learning on the fly.
Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine is currently favoring Hoyer, however, as he told Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com that Hoyer will likely start the first preseason game: "Brian will start the first preseason game if nothing else changes. There's plenty of time in there, daily updates staff-wise, to decide then how we want to [proceed]. There's a lot of different ways it can play out."
Given that it is the first game of the preseason, Manziel will likely get an equal look. The results shouldn't really be what matters for him, though. Sure, posting big yardage and multiple touchdowns in the preseason will help Manziel's case, but the most important thing is seeing how he meshes with teammates and leads drives down the field.
Should Manziel start Week 1?
Manziel is famous for his ability to keep drives alive. His legs are one of his best weapons, and that will help him keep the chains moving. Manageable third downs are every quarterback's best friend, and Manziel's legs will help to create 3rd-and-short situations.
This ability to move the ball is even more important this year for Cleveland because of the ongoing Josh Gordon case. Potentially without its greatest weapon, Cleveland will need to find yards wherever it can.
I want to play. That's what anybody wants to do. Anybody that's been a starter in the past, and been playing, they want to play," he said. "To say I don't want to be the starter, that would be ridiculous.
I absolutely want to start, that's my goal. Hopefully I can achieve that.
With confidence, talent and the ability to captivate the fanbase, Manziel is the logical choice to open the season as the Browns' starting quarterback. It won't be smooth sailing for Cleveland—there will be a learning curve for him. That said, Manziel is the future of the franchise.
Now is as good a time as any to get him started.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR