I'm not making this up. I was doing my daily survey of all things Dallas Cowboys and NFL in general, when I came across an article at Optimum Scouting that started off with the theory that Johnny Manziel was likely to suffer a slide in the draft because of his size, the supposed character issues, and his style of game. They also had some major questions about Teddy Bridgewater, who reportedly had some very bad interviews at the NFL combine. And then they had this to offer.
-Three teams fit for Manziel in the first round: the Cleveland Browns (though, in my most recent Mock Draft, I had them waiting until their second first-rounder), the Minnesota Vikings (though they aren't pressed to find their franchise quarterback with Norv Turnerin the mix) and the Dallas Cowboys. Don't rule out Dallas grabbing Manziel if he starts to slip. (Emphasis added.)
It was the first time I had seen anyone mention Dallas as having even a slight chance of getting Manziel in the draft. But it came on the same day that ESPN's Ron Jaworski went into full Johnny Football-bashing mode.
"I'm not crazy about him, I'll be honest with you. I've only looked at five games. I wouldn't take him in the first three rounds, but that's my opinion," Jaworski said on WPEN-FM 97.5 in Philadelphia on Tuesday. "It's incomplete right now. But he hasn't done a whole lot to me."
Jaworski did not back down later on his home network, going into more detail, according to a report on the Houston Chronicle's Texans blog (Manziel has been frequently proposed as a candidate for that first overall pick now in the Texans' hands.).
"The NFL game is about the pre-snap phase of the game, getting in the proper protection, then, when you drop back, reading coverage properly, getting the ball out of your hand early in time with your receiver so when they turn, that ball is there," he said." And it is ball security in the pocket, taking care of the football. It's mechanics in the pocket: your throwing slot is consistent.
"And right now, I see Johnny Manziel as a project, a guy that will go down as one of the great collegiate players of all time. I would pay to see Johnny Manziel play in a college game. He's a great college player, but his game, just in my opinion, does not project to the NFL. He's a project, and he's going to have to spend some time working on his game."
Obviously, this is one analyst's take, and many (including Mel Kiper, who gave a counterargument in the same article) do not agree with Jaws. But the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback is not the only one who has some doubts about Manziel. Former Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners head coach Barry Switzer had this well reasoned, in-depth analysis of Mr. Football.
"I'm gonna tell you. I said Johnny Manziel is ... I don't like his antics. I think he's an arrogant little prick," Switzer said.
Before I read these articles, I thought there was approximately a snowball's chance in perdition (the old-fashioned fire and brimstone kind, just to be perfectly clear) that Dallas would see one of the most polarizing figures in football available when they went on the clock in the first round. But the question here is, what are the teams saying? A lot of the "reporting" on where players should be taken in the draft is really just writers going off what they hear from various team scouts and sources. Suddenly, the day after the NFL combine, a couple of different outlets start spreading a "Manziel will slide" message.
I don't know if there is any substance to this, but I also know that Manziel is not seen as a slam dunk by all. Dane Brugler's first post-combine Big Board at CBSSports.com has Manziel as only the 33rd best prospect overall in the draft. The idea of Manziel being there at 16 may not be as crazy as you think.
What should Dallas do if he is? Jerry Jones has stated that Tony Romo is Dallas' "ticket". At the same time, Stephen Jones said that the team is looking at Manziel "just in case". Comments from both father and son indicate that they, at least, like Manziel as a player, but it seems obvious that he would never be handed the starting job while Romo is even marginally healthy.
Which might be the ideal situation for a supremely talented but largely unschooled (in the NFL game) quarterback. Sit for two or three years as the heir apparent. Get taught how to work out of the pocket instead of taking off. And learn about when to use that supreme mobility to best effect from a guy we like to call Romodini.
Of course there would be an immediate but entirely manufactured quarterback controversy. And it might take a little massaging of Manziel's ego to get him used to the idea that he has to do an Aaron Rodgers and wait for the team to decide it is time for the changing of the guard. But it would either solidify the quarterback situation in Dallas until about 2025, or the team will have a chance to trade him for some serious draft picks. And, as I have mentioned before, Dallas may be the franchise with the best chance of handling the resultant media frenzy that is certain to follow Manziel, at least for a while.
I still think this is a remote possibility. Remote, however, is not impossible. It all depends on the grade Dallas has on its board. If Johnny Football is sitting there when Dallas goes on the clock, we'll find out.
How would you play it if you had the call?