Browns’ Shanahan compares Manziel to RGIII

Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (left) and quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) during organized team activities at Cleveland Browns practice facility.

Andrew Weber/Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Before the draft, Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan did not tip his hand as to whom he preferred the Browns to draft at quarterback. However, being the most experienced coach on the offensive side of the ball — particularly at evaluating the quarterback position — Mike Pettine said he would defer a lot of the quarterback evaluation to Shanahan.

Obviously, the Browns drafted Johnny Manziel and it is Shanahan’s job to develop him to be the Browns quarterback, either now or sometime in the future. Shanahan was the Redskins’ offensive coordinator in 2012 when they drafted Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick.

Griffin immediately became the starter and put together an offense that allowed Griffin to do what he did best, running and throwing. Griffin was the 2012 offensive rookie of the year as he threw for 20 touchdowns and rushed for 815 yards and had seven rushing scores.

"Johnny and Robert are very similar," Shanahan recently told USA TODAY Sports. "They’re both talented guys who can make plays with their legs. But there comes a time in the NFL when they’re going to keep you in the pocket, and you’re going to have to have that ability to make the throws with your arm and mind.

"And Johnny, just like Robert, has that arm, talent and intelligence to do that."

The difference with the Browns is that Brian Hoyer is the incumbent at quarterback despite only starting three games last year before tearing his ACL.

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy was on The Dan Patrick Show last week and said "They’ll have a riot in Cleveland if Manziel isn’t starting opening day. I wouldn’t want to face those fans if you trot someone else out there opening day."

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The Browns have said that Hoyer is the starter, but there will be a competition at the position in training camp. Hoyer has yet to be cleared for 11-on-11 team drills and Manziel filled in for Hoyer during those parts of practice this past week and there was a lot of speculation on Manziel’s rise up the depth chart.

The Browns have just completed two weeks of OTAs and Shanahan says it’s too early to evaluate the process.

"I really don’t try to assess them right now," Shanahan said. "For (the rookies), right when they think it’s getting easier, then they show up tomorrow morning we’re going to throw a whole bunch of stuff at them. Right now, OTAs is all about getting your feet wet. There are going to bad reps which are good reps, because you learn from bad reps. (We’re) putting them through as much situations as you can and then they get away from here for a little bit in June, July and then come back for training camp and see what sticks.

"To me, that’s when the true competition starts because it’s a little fairer," he said. "They have a better idea of what’s going on and a little more comfortable with not only calling the play, but actually looking in the right direction of where those people are. Right now, I think they’re heads are spinning as all rookies are and as a lot of the guys on our team are because we are a new (coaching) staff and its our first year together. The vets have a little more experience."

Manziel was asked after practice last Wednesday his assessment of where he stands.

"I don’t think there’s any ranking right now," Manziel said. "Obviously, Brian has been here and has a good grip on the offense. I’m just coming in here, learning trial by error. I’ve only been here two weeks and I’m just trying to piece things together and it doesn’t happen over night. There’s a process and I think there’s a lot of time left.

"We have more OTAs, minicamp and then training camp and there’s a lot of time to improve and try to figure this thing out," he said. "I wouldn’t put too much into everything. I think I speak for our entire team that were’ all out here trying to figure this out."