Is Johnny Manziel the Pick for the Cleveland Browns at 4?


Daniel Shirley-USA TODAY Sports

We here at Factory of Sadness can see how Johnny Manziel would be attractive to the Cleveland Browns’ front office. He’s a dynamic player; some might even say an entertainer first. And they may just be looking for the kind of guy you can make the face of your franchise.

Manziel’s performance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was quite thrilling. Not only was he phenomenal on the field, he provided the kind of hype on the sidelines that has endeared him to all of college football. He threw four touchdown passes that day, completed 30 of 38 passes for 382 yards and ran for 73 yards and a touchdown. And that was all by overcoming a large deficit at halftime for the comeback win.

With Josh McDaniels the likely candidate for the head coaching position, Manziel is intriguing because McDaniels has taken a chance on a dual-threat quarterback before. But Manziel is much better than Tim Tebow. And he’s worked harder than ever prior to this season, improving his footwork and his pocket presence. With the read-option offense being the new fad in the NFL, and the fact that the Browns were spurned last year by Chip Kelly, they may be positioning themselves to move in that direction (hence why many think Norv Turner will not be retained as OC).

But Manziel didn’t actually run the read-option at Texas A&M. He has all the athleticism and physical tools to run it, but his rushing yards were more or less gained with improvisation and ability to see the defense open up when all passing options were closed. This is clearly what makes him so enticing around NFL circles.

Speaking of Manziel’s versatility, Keith Arnold at Bleacher Report recently wrote an excellent article about QB guru George Whitfield Jr. and his work with Manziel over the summer. It’s this kind of dedication that impresses us most about him.

There are a few things that are concerning about Manziel, however. Even though he’s worked really hard, he still isn’t Tom Brady in the pocket (nor has the face to slap up on a Movado Watches billboard). He lacks the high release point of a Brady; mechanically he’s more of a slinger. But he also gets the ball out quickly, something the Browns lacked with their last first round QB pick.

Manziel’s also played with outstanding offensive tackles in Luke Joeckel (last year’s no. 2 overall pick) and Jake Matthews (projected to be no. 2 overall this year) in 2012. This past season, Matthews slid over to the left slide and Cedric Ogbuehi stepped in at right tackle. Ogbuehi is also considered a first round pick. Having a great offensive line can really cover up some deficiencies in a passing game.

The last issue we have with Manziel is durability. He’s 6’1″, 210 lbs. He still needs to improve on his ability to maneuver in the pocket, having a tendency to break down any time there’s a little pressure. If he’s able to stay in the pocket and step forward more often when it’s collapsing, something he’s struggled with, it would greatly improve his chances of not getting injured. Scrambling and trying to make the big play gives more of an opportunity for your backup to take your job (see Robert Griffin III, Michael Vick), specifically if you’re not as large as Ben Roethlisberger.

But if Manziel is able to build upon his work with Whitfield at the next level, then there is a good chance he succeeds. Check out the throw in this clip at 10:42. Manziel places the football exactly where it needs to be for his receiver so that only he can pull it in. It’s a semi-deep throw, and the accuracy is superb:

There’s something we can’t deny about “Johnny Football” Manziel. He’s fearless. And that’s a great attribute for teammates to rally around. So maybe stepping up in the pocket will come in time? It’s too soon to tell with him, but we like what we see so far in the eagerness to work and get better.

Factory of Sadness thinks he can be a really good quarterback in the NFL. He’s not positioned to have long-term success with his playing style, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make smart decisions and avoid a catastrophic injury. We’re more prone to want the Browns to draft a pocket passer, and the chance of injury makes us think twice about taking Manziel. It’s the same reason we didn’t want the Browns to give up so many first round picks for RGIII two years ago. The Redskins are paying the price right now with so many other holes on their roster.

But none of this matters. It’s what the Cleveland Browns think of Manziel that counts. And it’s long overdue for them to find their answer at quarterback. Might as well take another one further down in the draft to up the chances.

Who would you like the Browns to take with the 4th overall pick?