Would Johnny Be Good Pick on Day One?
By Joseph Healy
Special to Pro Football Guru
The time between the end of the 2013 season and the upcoming NFL draft has been excruciatingly long. It’s really only two weeks or so longer than it usually is, but it feels so much longer this time around.
Sports talk radio has re-hashed every discussion relating to the draft by this point, just about every column that could have been written has been written, and over the last week or so, I have sensed some real draft discussion fatigue among those that have been charged with talking and writing about it for the last several months.
But that’s not to say the lead-up hasn’t provided us with ample entertainment.
One of my favorite storylines leading up the draft every year is how players can mysteriously move way up or way down draft boards based on information like how well they threw the ball in gym shorts and a t-shirt to receivers who weren’t being defended or how good they look when they complete a standing broad jump. Because, you know, a standing broad jump is a skill used all the time in NFL games.
Case in point, in the time between the end of the college season and now, it has been decided that Tom Savage is no longer the mediocre quarterback we saw in college that transferred from Rutgers to Arizona (where he never played) and finally to Pittsburgh. Now, he’s an upwardly mobile quarterback prospect shooting up draft boards.
Then there’s Teddy Bridgewater. That guy has come full circle in just a few short months. For much of the season, he was considered to be among the favorites to go first overall.
Inevitably, there was some backlash. After a combine and a pro day that many perceived to be lackluster, Bridgewater fell down draft boards behind several other quarterbacks. Many mock drafts had him falling all the way into the second round and being drafted by the teams that were expected to take him in the first round just weeks before.
Now, we’re seeing the backlash to the backlash, and over the last week or so, I’ve heard a lot of talk about how Bridgewater might actually be undervalued because of all the negativity surrounding him. ESPN the Magazine even ran a cover story this week on him that more or less used that as a premise. That’s a big swing in perception considering we haven’t seen or heard anything new about him since his last workout.
By far the most entertaining story to follow, though, is that of Johnny Manziel.
The first storyline about Johnny Football was whether or not the Texans would be willing to pull the trigger and draft him with the first overall selection. The Texans have been quite tight-lipped about what they’re planning to do, but it seems the consensus is that while they would prefer to trade out or simply take Jadeveon Clowney, there is considerable pressure from fans and even some around the organization to keep Johnny in the state of Texas.
Of course, there is a scenario where Manziel can stay in Texas and not play for the Texans. About a week ago, a very vague story by way of Jim Nantz, made its way out. It was reported that the Dallas Cowboys were going to “figure out a way” to get Johnny Manziel. I don’t doubt that Nantz is very connected to people around the league and within the Cowboys organization, but to me, this feels like something Nantz is simply assuming based on a passing comment he heard from someone who didn’t mean it so literally. But I suppose only time will tell.
Then there are those that aren’t even all that sold on Manziel being taken at the top of the draft. Charley Casserly, who has previously served as general manager of the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans, and now serves as an analyst with the NFL Network, thinks he will drop clear into the second round. Given how connected Casserly is and the amount of work he reportedly puts into putting together this type of information, I don’t think he’s just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.
More recently, we’ve also started to hear that the St. Louis Rams have a real interest in drafting him with the second overall pick. I think this is the most interesting rumor surrounding the polarizing signal caller that I’ve heard yet.
It’s not just that there are some faint whispers about the Rams being intrigued by what he brings. Those rumors are a dime a dozen this time of year. It’s that there are also some very specific rumors about the Rams looking to trade Sam Bradford to Minnesota to make room on the roster. And perhaps most tellingly, no one with the Rams organization has jumped out in front of these stories to dispel the rumors. For a franchise that has done nothing but tell us that Sam Bradford is undoubtedly their quarterback of the present and future, this would be quite an about face.
Even if this all turns out to be a smoke screen, this is a story to follow. Surely Bradford isn’t too thrilled with having his name in trade rumors after being told repeatedly he is “their guy.”
After this coming weekend, we’ll finally have all the answers…and not a moment too soon.
Joseph Healy is a marketing writer by day and a sportswriter by night. He's like a superhero in that way, but way lamer. You can follow him on Twitter @Joe_On_Sports, or if you're a fellow seamhead, you can read his work covering Miami Hurricanes baseball at CanesTime.com and Big Ten baseball at B1GBaseball.com.