ESPN’s Mel Kiper makes Johnny Manziel first pick in his initial 2014 mock draft

There are a few caveats to it, but ESPN's Mel Kiper just opened up the NFL draft's equivalent of Pandora's box.

Kiper, in his initial 2014 NFL mock draft, projected the Houston Texans to draft Texas A&M lightning-rod quarterback Johnny Manziel first overall. (Fair warning: It's "Insider" content, meaning you'll have to pay to read what's inside.)

Hold onto your 10-gallon hats.

First, some background: Kiper is not necessarily saying that Manziel is the draft class' best talent, nor that he projects to be the best pro. Kiper also is not accounting for trades — which he makes clear by underlining — which clouds the picture a bit. But he is opening up the suddenly very real possibility that Johnny Football not only will be a top-10 pick, or a top-5er, but also that he could go first.

Look, yes Kiper is mocked somewhat as a TV caricature these days, but he and Pro Football Weekly's Joel Buchsbaum helped turn what was a cottage industry in the 1970s into a national obsession today, and Kiper still knows talent and value.

There are a lot of other controversial picks in his mock, such as UCF's Blake Bortles going fourth to the Cleveland Browns, ahead of Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, who lands eighth (!) with the Minnesota Vikings.

Hey, who knows, right? There's a lot to be settled between now and May 8, when the draft kicks off. But this much is clear: Johnny Football isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and fans who want to poke holes in his NFL chances had better open their minds to the idea that he's not lasting very long in this draft.

Where do you think Manziel will end up? How high can he go? How far could he slide? Make your comments below.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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