Even with potential franchise-changing defensive players in the 2014 draft such as Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has been by far the most over-analyzed player entering this years draft.
I see both sides of the Manziel debate, after watching his college games live, and having re-watched a good part of his Sophomore season. Manziel’s speed and deep accuracy made him the most dominant college quarterbacks since Tim Tebow, but we also know how Tebow’s NFL career turned out. At the same time, while I understand that he isn’t going to be able to consistently complete passes into double and triple coverage in the NFL, and he is going to have to stay in the pocket more to stay healthy in the NFL, I think Manziel can succeed in the right NFL system. If he ends up being drafted by the Raiders, then he’ll be out of the NFL in five seasons. But, put his skill-set in an offense like Chip Kelly’s and he could lead the Eagles to a deep playoff run within a few seasons.
But how realistic is it that Kelly would be faced with the dilemma of having to either draft or pass on a player that he admittedly ‘loves’? Well actually, it’s very possible.
In what has turned out to be a weak quarterback draft class, it appears that Manziel will be one of the first two quarterbacks taken off the board. But many draft-insiders sentiments (take that for what it is), seem to be that Blake Bortles could be selected ahead of Manziel. If that happens, we could very well see a repeat of last year’s draft, where some people view Geno Smith as a potential top-five pick, and he ends up falling to the early second-round, but still being only the second quarterback taken. If that type of scenario unfolds for Manziel, or even if he falls to the late first-round, he will likely be on the board for the Eagles 22nd pick.
How could that type of scenario unfold?
It appears unlikely that Manizel goes to the Texans with the first-pick, and while it is possible they move into the middle of the first-round and take him, he doesn’t appear to be a great fit for Bill O’Brien’s offense, which typically runs through a pocket quarterback. The Jaguars locked up Chad Henne for two more seasons, and appear set on waiting for next year’s stacked quarterback class to find their franchise quarterback. The Browns COULD take Manziel, but they could also take Bortles, or neither and ride out 2014 with Brian Hoyer. The Raiders and Buccaneers could take Manziel, but both of them have landed veteran quarterbacks (Matt Schaub and Josh McCown) this off-season, and the Bucs still have Mike Glennon to potentially build around. The Vikings are a team at eight that could easily select either of the two quarterbacks, but if both are on the board, I think Bortles seems like a better fit to learn behind Matt Cassel, because he is a pocket quarterback. Cassel’s presence also means that the Vikings don’t HAVE to take a quarterback. The Titans could take Manziel at 11, but new coach Ken Whisenhunt’s offenses have had the most success when Philip Rivers and Kurt Warner were running them, both of whom are pocket quarterbacks. The Titans also have Jake Locker still on their roster, should they choose to hold out on taking a quarterback until next year.
If Manziel is still on the board past all of those picks, it would either take a trade, or Manziel being selected by the Cowboys or the Cardinals, for him not to make it to the Eagles 22nd pick. While I’d bet that doesn’t happen, it certainly doesn’t seem to be impossible to me that Johnny Football makes it to the 22nd pick.
So we asked our NFL experts (including one that has no connections to Philly), what they would do if the situations unfolds that Manziel is on the board for the Eagles at the 22nd pick.
Editors note: I’m one of the experts.
Tim Kelly-Section 215 Senior Editor
While I think that the idea of Manziel doing big things in Chip Kelly’s offense would be tough to pass up on, Nick Foles is coming off of one of the best sophomore seasons for a quarterback in NFL history. The idea of wasting a pick on a position that you don’t need to improve, when you still have a very questionable secondary and you could stand to add another wideout, just doesn’t make sense.
So what would I do if Manziel is on the board at 22? If a player like Calvin Pryor or Darqueze Dennard also drops to 22, then I draft them at that spot and don’t think twice about it. More likely than not, neither of those players will fall to 22. If you feel confident that you can trade down a couple picks and still land Jordan Matthews or Marqise Lee, while adding another third or fourth-round pick from a team that wants to take Manziel, then go ahead. If you are steady on taking a receiver there, then I can’t fault the Eagles if they move down.
So I’d rather see the Eagles trade down and land more draft picks to continue to build the defense and add some younger depth pieces to the offensive-line, than take someone that really doesn’t fit onto a team that appears to have a franchise QB. Keep in mind, if Mike Evans, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Odell Beckham, or even Justin Gilbert fall to the late teens, the Eagles could also be in a position to move up to take one of them. And I’d for sure feel better if the Eagles took any of those names (especially the first three) than Manziel.
Somers Price-Section 215 Co-Editor
If Nick Foles was an entrenched veteran with five years of success under his belt, one would have a much tougher time saying he is the best player available. Foles might be better than Manziel, which would be great for the Eagles even if they drafted the Texas A&M product. The presumed Eagles starter has come out and said he does not mind the possibility of the team taking another quarterback and has already demonstrated he can handle a quarterback competition. With such contrasting styles, coach Chip Kelly might be able to figure out exactly what type of quarterback is the best fit for the offense. Given the importance of the position, taking on an asset that could bring back value down the road to figure out the most important position on the field is worth a late 1st round pick in my book. I have spoken out against trading up for Manziel and using additional resources to fill a position where the Eagles are in relatively good shape. However, if the team finds themselves sitting at 22 and Manziel is still on the board, if I’m Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly, I’m pulling the trigger.
If Johnny Manziel were to drop to the Eagles with the 22nd draft, Howie Roseman would be best serving the team by passing on Johnny Football.