On NFL Draft Day, Johnny Manziel, despite predictions that he would to go to one of the top three picking teams, sat stoically for three hours as his draft stock went into free fall before his eyes. Finally, with the 22nd overall selection, the Cleveland Browns made Johnny Football their likely quarterback of the future.
After the Houston Texans made South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney the top overall pick, and the St. Louis Rams — whom former Rams great Marshall Faulk had predicted would go for Johnny Manziel — offered a surprise by picking an offensive lineman, Auburn’s Greg Robinson, with the second pick, expectation was high that third-selecting Jacksonville would scoop up Manziel.
The Jaguars picked a quarterback, but instead of the undersized and flamboyant Manziel, they opted for a signal-caller cur from a more conventional mode, picking 6’5″, 232-pound Blake Bortles, out of Central Florida. NFL scouts have compared Bortles to Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Rothlisberger, for his size, strength and ability to break free of tacklers.
The pick made for an awkward moment as Manziel, who was seated at a table directly adjacent to the stage, stared straight ahead, taking a moment to sip from a plastic cup of water, as Bortles walked directly in front of him to the podium.
But if being overlooked by the Jaguars wasn’t surprise enough, Johnny Manziel must have been shocked as teams with the next 18 selections in the NFL draft also gave him the cold shoulder.
The Browns, who originally had the ninth overall pick, moved up to fourth via a deal with the Buffalo Bills. But they resisted the urge to pick Manziel in that spot, though they reportedly gave strong consideration to taking the Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner. But they opted instead for Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
The Browns also had the eighth pick thanks to a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, but they went for pass defense at that point, grabbing Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. But with the 22nd pick, Browns General Manager Ray Farmer who prior to the NFL Draft called the 5’11” scrambling quarterback “exciting,” electric,” and “dynamic,” finally seized the opportunity and made Johnny Manziel a Brown.
Manziel later said he was “honored” to join the Cleveland franchise.
So honored to be a Cleveland Brown. I can’t wait to get to work. #DraftDay http://t.co/mP95vTpdAO
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) May 9, 2014
In his sophomore season at Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel passed for 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns while also gaining 759 yards on the ground, before declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft.