Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies poses with a jersey after he was picked #22 overall by the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BEREA, Ohio–In his third trade in the first round, Browns General Manager Ray Farmer put all eyes on the Browns.
After weeks of speculation that Johnny Manziel was on the Browns radar with their first pick, Farmer selected Manziel after trading up from 26 to 22 with the Eagles. The Browns traded picks with the Eagles in the first round and the Browns gave up their second, third-round pick (83rd overall).
The Browns hope the third time is the charm with quarterbacks selected with the 22nd pick. The Browns selected Brady Quinn with the 22nd pick in the 2007 draft and Brandon Weeden with the 22nd pick in the 2012 draft.
In effect, the Browns acquired Manziel with the choice they received from the Colts for the trade of Trent Richardson.
One of the most polarizing figures in the draft, Manziel had been projected to go as high as the first pick in the draft to the Texans. However, as he was passed up by teams with quarterback needs, speculation grew that the Browns could have their pick of Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr or Manziel as their 26th pick approached.
The trade by Farmer galvanized who their top choice was.
Manziel was frequently shown on the national television broadcast as teams that were rumored to be interested in him passed on him.
"I knew the TV part of it was going to come," Manziel said. "I knew that would be part of it. For me, it was a little nerve-racking, but at the same time, I went into the situation telling myself that everything would happen for a reason, that I would land wherever I did tonight for a purpose. Whether I thought or knew the situation, I thought it would all work out for me, and I truly believe leaving here tonight that the situation did work out for me. I’m in a great place."
Manziel (5-11 ¾, 207) won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman at Texas A & M and declared for the NFL Draft after his second season. Manziel threw for 7,820 yards with 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for the Aggies. He completed 68.95 percent of his passes.
Manziel has been scrutinized by draft pundits for months, but he says it comes with the territory.
"I’m used to that by now," he said. "In the two years that I’ve had in college, I think I’ve been very scrutinized and nitpicked, as far as my game goes. For me, the one thing I’d like to say is I improved from my first year playing to my second. I got better. All I’m trying to do throughout these next few years is continue to get better and hone in on my skills and become a better player. I think if I do that, I can be really good."
Manziel was tremendous at making plays out of the pocket by extending plays. He rushed for 1,401 yards with 21 touchdowns in 2012 and 759 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. However, he has been criticized about not being able to be productive in the pocket.
"I feel like I got better this year and got more comfortable in the pocket," Manziel said. "I’m growing as a quarterback and continuing to get better as a player. I’m not sitting here today saying I have all of the answers or I’m an all-world player or have it all figured out. For me, I know there’s room to grow, in the pocket and just get more comfortable in the pocket in general. There’s room for me to grow, and I’m looking forward to closing that gap with a great quarterbacks coach and a great offensive coordinator that can help me there."
The Browns were criticized for being one of only two teams not at Manziel’s Pro Day, but they privately worked him out and he said he felt all along the Browns could be a place he’d end up.
"I didn’t really know," he said. "I thought it could be a potential landing spot. From top to bottom thought I had a good relationship with everyone."
Manziel said recently he would make teams that passed on him regret it.
Johnny Manziel is the third quarterback in recent years to be selected No. 22 overall by the Browns … and the other two haven’t worked out so well.
Pick by Browns
1st round, No. 22
1st round, No. 22
1st round, No. 22
Previous Browns picks
No. 3 (Joe Thomas)
No. 3 (Trent Richardson)
No. 8 (Justin Gilbert)
"I believe so," he said. "At the same time, I’ve accomplished a dream of mine, being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. What a blessing, what an honor it is. At the same time, there are a lot of teams that did pass me up. Just like I think with anybody in this draft that a team didn’t select them that they thought they might go to or thought that there was a possibility, you do grow a little bit of a chip. For me, just continue to try and get better and become a good football player.
"I’m going to take a very aggressive mindset into it," he said. "I’m going to work extremely hard to get what I want, and I know what that is. I want to win, and I want to be successful. The amount of time I put in and the heart I put into this, which I know I’m capable of doing, will tell the tale."
Manziel vows to be a productive player for the Browns.
"I’ve been a winner everywhere I’ve been and I’m going to put myself in the best position to win," he said. "I’m very excited to be part of the city, the Dawg Pound and the Browns. More than anything I want to win games."
CBSSports.com Dane Brugler summarized Manziel’s game this way:
"One of the most exciting and productive players in college football history, "Johnny Football" burst on the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2012 with a record-breaking season. He followed up with improved statistics and development as a sophomore, finishing his career with numerous school and NCAA records and accolades.
"Manziel lives and dies with his backyard, spur-of-the-moment style and appears crazed and frantic as a scrambler, but he’s in constant controlled panic mode. He is extremely fleet-of-foot and is a "ninja in a china shop," contorting his body on several throws — mechanics are all over the place but he does what works for him. Manziel benefited from a strong offensive line and a shotgun offense, but his scrambling allowed for big chunk plays with his legs or his arm. He is a very smart and ultracompetitive player, but there are some maturity concerns — not a bad kid, just has some immature tendencies. He has supreme confidence and won’t shy from the big moment, putting the team on his back and rallying the troops. Manziel’s size is a concern because it’s in his football DNA to extend plays and hold the ball until the last possible moment and in a league where players are bigger, faster, stronger, violent hits will be unavoidable — how long can he hold up? Manziel projects as a NFL starter with exciting potential, but the risk factors cannot be ignored, making him a very polarizing prospect to project to the pros — worth taking a chance in the 1st round, but durability will likely be his biggest issue transitioning to the pro game."