Is Johnny Football’s future with the Browns?
(Over the next several weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, Fox Sports Ohio will take a look at some of the draft prospects that could end up with the Browns. FSO’s Fred Greetham was at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and talked with many of these top prospects)
Much of the NFL football world had their attention shifted to Texas A & M quarterback Johnny Manziel this past Thursday.
In fact, 30 of the 32 NFL teams had representatives at Manziel’s Pro Day, which was also broadcast live on ESPN and NFL Network. However, the Browns were one of the two teams that were absent.
Manziel (5-foot-11¾, 207) was asked if it bothered him that a team that is in the market for a quarterback decided to skip his ‘performance.’ However, the Browns are expected to have a private workout with Manziel in the next month.
"I’m not disappointed," Manziel said when asked about the Browns. "If they wanted to be here, they had the opportunity to. I don’t think anything of it."
Whether the Browns have no interest in Manziel or if they are going out of their way to hide their interest in him or any of the top-rated quarterbacks remains to be seen.
Browns coach Mike Pettine was asked about Manziel earlier in the week at the NFL owners meetings in Florida.
"Gifted playmaker," Pettine said. "The play starts when he makes the first guy miss. That’s exciting to watch, but to transition to the NFL, he’ll have to be able to play in structure, his fifth-step, his foot hits the ground that he can execute a throw. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that wouldn’t happen and I think he’s capable of doing it, but when you have that ability to improvise like that, that’s what makes him special and maybe separates him from other guys."
Pettine described the type of quarterback he likes and a case could be made that it sounds a lot like Manziel.
"The nice thing about the system Kyle (Shanahan) runs is he’s gotten it done with some different types, so we’re not as locked in to a specific type," Pettine said. "I’m looking for a guy that’s got that ‘it’ factor — not necessarily, starting with the physical talent first. We are going to work out to see how they are physical, but at the same time do a lot of homework from a background standpoint, talking to guys, people they’ve played with, coaches, just trying to see who has that ‘it’ factor.
"You see a lot of guys that have the physical talent to play and there’s just something missing," he said. "I think you’ve seen a lot of guys that have overcome not having a huge arm, not being the fastest, they’ve overcome it with the intangibles."
Manziel has been compared to Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson, who wasn’t drafted until the third-round of the 2012 draft.
"That’s a great example," Pettine said. "Again, when a team wins the Super Bowl, it’s copycat and they look at that model. They ended up not pursuing a quarterback early in the draft and found him later on, they didn’t force it and then they turned around and built the best possible team around him, No. 1 defense, No. 3 rushing offense. And he’s got that ‘it ‘factor, where he wasn’t losing games, first and foremost, and the few times they asked him to win it he was able to do it."
Manziel had a superb Pro Day by all accounts, where he completed 61 of 64 passes and finished with a 50-yard strike down the sideline. However, Manziel, who wore a helmet and full pads for the workout said he wasn’t satisfied with his workout.
"I was a little disappointed," he said after the workout on ESPN. "I was going for perfection today."
On NFL Network, Manziel said he’s fearless.
"My main thing was I’m not scared of anything," Manziel said. "I don’t play that way on the field, why come out here in a scripted workout and be scared of anything?
"I can make any throw out here on this field and hopefully compete with anybody."
Manziel talked at the combine about playing in a cold weather climate if selected by the Browns. He was measured with 9 7/8 hands, which was larger than Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles.
"Any circumstances, any situation that’s thrown my way, that’s part of being a quarterback," Manziel said. "You have to handle what’s thrown your way, whether it’s cold weather, rain, you look at some of these games this year, Jacksonville, Arizona, whoever these warm teams are, these teams still play in the cold.
"It’s football, it’s a man’s game and it’s played in the snow, it’s played in the wet weather, it’s played in tough environments."
NFL Draft experts are all over the board on Manziel. Some have said he should be the first player taken, while others have said he shouldn’t be drafted in the first three rounds.
Pettine said it will be a big mistake to take a quarterback just for the sake of taking a quarterback.
"I don’t think you want to force it," Pettine said. "If that guy’s not there at that pick, I don’t think you force the issue and say this is the quarterback of the future.
"So we’re doing our homework on all these guys and we’re gonna log a lot of miles here in the next couple weeks and hopefully we can find that quarterback that’s gonna best serve the Cleveland Browns."
It’s unsure if Manziel will be available to the Browns at the fourth spot in the draft and if he is, will they take him.
The answer to that question is what everybody wants to know.