Why the Cleveland Browns need to draft Johnny Manziel
By J.P. Fox
Tim Couch. Charlie Frye. Brady Quinn. Colt McCoy. Brandon Weeden. Since the Browns re-joined the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1999, these are the quarterbacks that the team had in mind when trying to find that next franchise signal-caller. It’s a very underwhelming list that had limited “success” with the team. Sprinkle in a few veterans that were added over the years such as Jeff Garcia, Derek Anderson, and Jake Delhomme, and the Cleveland Browns haven’t had a steady quarterback in the fifteen years that they have been back in the league. There always seems to be some question marks with the franchise when it comes to most important position on the entire football team. The resolution to this ongoing problem may very well be staring the team in the face over the next six weeks or so.
Let me rewind really quick to the 2012 NFL Draft process. Leading up to the draft, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick and were indirectly telling the world that Andrew Luck was going to be their pick. The second overall pick was held by the St. Louis Rams and the next best player on the board was Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin was surrounded by a ton of hype. He had a great arm, electric legs, and an incredibly likeable personality… the perfect type of player that can immediately give a franchise a facelift and tons of hope. The Rams made it very clear that they were auctioning off the pick to the highest bidder with the winner securing the rights to draft Griffin and immediately insert him as the face of their franchise. The two teams that were in the running for the #2 pick in a trade-up were the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins. Whoever was going to pull the trigger first was going to draft Robert Griffin III with the #2 overall pick…
Mike Holmgren was running the football operations for the Browns at this time. He was hesitant to pull the trigger on the deal for the pure fact that he “didn’t want to bet the Browns’ future on one player.” With that said, the Redskins traded three first round picks and a second round pick for the #2 overall pick and selected Griffin. The Browns lost again. The Browns had their franchise quarterback staring them in the face and still didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Number 10 Griffin III jerseys would have sold like hot cakes in Cleveland and he would have immediately been the most popular athlete, or person for that matter, in Cleveland since LeBron James. The team hesitated, though, and lost. Holmgren lost his job. The Browns ended up with 28 year old Brandon Weeden… OUCH.
Fast forward to the 2014 NFL Draft. The Browns hold the #4 overall pick and the draft has three to four quarterbacks that are considered something along the lines of very good, solid, or even franchise-type players: Blake Bortles from the University of Central Florida, Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville, Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M, and Derek Carr from Fresno State. Even though there seems to be options when it comes to the quarterback position, there is one player out of this group of four that the Browns need to set their sights on and make sure they make him the next face of the franchise: Johnny Manziel aka Johnny Football.
Johnny Manziel is one of the most physically gifted athletes coming out of college in a very long time. He has a Heisman Trophy himself. He put up video-game-like statistics in the Southeastern Conference and has a popularity level right now that is through the roof. This is the Robert Griffin III situation 2.0. The Browns need Johnny Manziel. Manziel immediately takes over Cleveland as the most popular athlete since “The King” left for Miami. #2 Cleveland Browns Manziel jerseys lead the league in sales. The Dawg Pound has hope again and a reason to fill up the stadium, other than “being a die-hard fans, win or lose.” This needs to happen.
A 2nd chance
The Browns don’t have a face of the franchise. Their #1 quarterback right now is a very capable Brian Hoyer… A very capable backup, not starter. The team has a rookie head coach and a superstar Wide Receiver in Josh Gordon. Adding Johnny Football to one of the most die-hard fan bases in all of sports is a win-win. Manziel takes over a city with his presence and his ability to excite fans in addition to his amazing ability on the field. Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton has even publicly said that Manziel reminds him of himself, but may be even better. That’s saying something.
The Browns struck out on former first round picks Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, and Brandon Weeden. The team made a franchise-changing mistake on not pulling the trigger on the Robert Griffin III trade. With the #4 overall pick, the team is very likely to be in position to grab Manziel without having to trade up. If the Dawg Pound has any hope at a bright future, starting in 2014, the Browns need to draft the most polarizing college athlete in some time, Mr. Johnny Manziel. There will be rejoice in the city of Cleveland and the Browns may actually crawl out of the cellar of the AFC North, where they’ve lived for entirely too long.