"With the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select John..."
As a Cleveland fan, that is probably all you heard before you started screaming your guts out. Out of anger, out of giddiness, out of incredulation, you can't deny that you were screaming. That's all you needed to hear. You probably didn't even hear the rest of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's sentence. The Browns could have traded up to draft John Brown, the wide receiver from Pittsburgh State or John Urschel, the offensive lineman from Penn State. You wouldn't know any different, you heard John.
And that was all you needed to hear.
When the clock stuck 11:45 PM and the final pick (Teddy Bridgewater, of all people) was announced, the Cleveland Browns had officially completed one of the wackiest and, as of right now, most successful 1st rounds in NFL Draft history.
The Browns moved down, then up, then up again and, when all was said and done, they ended up with the number one rated CB in the draft AND Johnny Manziel, the most polarizing prospect since Tim Rick Tebow himself.
What does this mean for the Browns?
The Browns haven't had a quarterback as polarizing as Johnny Manziel this millenium. The case can be made that they haven't had a quarterback of his magnitude in their entire franchise history. Cleveland quarterbacks have been far from media magnets. To say that the quarterbacks Cleveland has employed have been "underrated" would be an understatement. The men taking the snap in Cleveland have been representative of the city itself- quiet, blue collar individuals who rarely get drafted in fantasy football and are only in the public eye when they make a mistake (which has been often).
It's not that Cleveland hasn't seen great quarterback play. Cleveland lays claim to one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, a man who's bust is and will be enshrined in Canton for eternity. Otto Graham was and is the best quarterback to ever don the orange and brown. But, the last time Graham took a snap, Eisenhower was in the White House and the price of gas was 29 cents per gallon. In the 59 years since Otto Graham took his last snap the Browns have seem memorable performances by both Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar, but have failed to truly find another "franchise quarterback".
Is Manziel franchise material?
Manziel could be franchise material. He's proven time and again that he can handle the pressure, both on the field and off. He's a big-time player with a big-time personality.
Manziel's off the field concerns have been well documented. At the end of the day, Johnny Manziel is a college kid from Tyler, Texas who won college football's ultimate award. He got drunk, he made dumb decisions, he slept in. I did the same exact things without winning the Heisman. His crimes were that of immaturity, nothing more.
Sure, Manziel makes great plays. It's well documented that he can turn a busted play into a big gain. But there have been a multitude of players who could do that. Remember Seneca Wallace? Beating up on college kids doesn't necessarily equate into NFL success. But if there was ever a fit for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's "move the pocket" play-action offense, it would be Manziel. Manziel's elusiveness and escapability make him the perfect candidate to run the new offensive style being brought to the shores of Lake Erie.
At the end of the day, Manziel has his haters just as he has his fans. But if he wins, nothing else matters. Cleveland hasn't had a quarterback to be proud of in this millenium. Could he be the guy to reverse Cleveland's recent quarterback misfortune? Only time will tell.
One thing is for certain- if he fails, he'll go down in flames...and we'll all certainly be watching.