COMMENTARY | The assumption since even before the start of the 2013 college football season has been that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will ultimately declare himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
The young phenom who won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman back in 2012 had himself another banner year. Manziel completed nearly 70 percent of his passes in 2013, and he threw for 37 touchdowns and 4,114 yards. He was picked off on 13 occasions this past season.
Despite being believed to be one of the top-tier college quarterbacks who could be selected as high as first overall in the upcoming draft, Manziel has not yet publicly announced his intentions. He had the following to say to Brett McMurphy of ESPN about his future on Monday: "I want to make the right decision that's best for me and my family."
The legend of the would-be first round pick commonly known as Johnny Football grew even greater after he led his team back against Duke during the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve night. Manziel completed 12 of 13 pass attempts in the second half of that contest, and went 30 for 38 overall. He tossed four touchdowns and 382 passing yards in the winning effort. Manziel also rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on eleven carries.
Arguably the top moment of Manziel's night, and maybe of his college career, came in the third quarter of the Duke game. Manziel pulled off a great escape, the type of play that would make Eli Manning proud, before throwing a touchdown pass.
Manziel has been linked with the Cleveland Browns since back in September when Peter King first reported via Monday Morning Quarterback that the Browns were interested in drafting the 21-year old. Cleveland is once again in the midst of a search for a franchise QB. The club does have Brian Hoyer, who will be coming off of an ACL tear, set to return as the team's No. 1 player at the position this summer.
That said, all indications are that the Browns will be taking a quarterback with one of the team's two first round picks.
A Walter Football mock draft posted in early January contained the following information regarding the Browns potentially taking a flier on Johnny Football: "Reports have trickled out that the Browns are smitten with Johnny Manziel, and they fired their coach because (Rob) Chudzinski didn't like the Texas A&M product very much." There have been whispers among those who cover the Browns that team owner Jimmy Haslam is a big Manziel fan.
Cleveland has already learned that the team will miss out on two potential rookie quarterbacks in 2014. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota announced back in December that he would be staying in school for another year. It was reported earlier this week that redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley, another potential top-ten pick, will return to UCLA.
Manziel deciding to stay in school could result in the Browns looking at a different position with the fourth overall selection. Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins should be on the board by the time the Browns are first called to the podium. Some have even suggested that Cleveland could go offensive line with the team's first selection.
There is also no guarantee that Manziel will fall down to fourth if he does enter the draft. Either the Houston Texans or the Jacksonville Jaguars, both sitting ahead of the Browns in the current draft order and both in need of a quarterback, could snatch Manziel. Such a situation could land either Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville or Blake Bortles from UCF in Cleveland's lap.
That might not be the worst thing for the team were that to occur.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Johnny Manziel
- Cleveland Browns