Johnny Manziel: Just Do It

Johnny Manziel: Just Do It

Johnny Football isn't just a Tim Tebow sideshow. This is a guy who led all Automatic-Qualifying conference quarterbacks with a 73.5 percent completion percentage from the pocket last season.

For the first time since Tony Dungy sat his starters against the Tennessee Titans in December 2007, I've found a Cleveland Browns-related topic that I truly feel passionate about.

Sure, there were those wins against New Orleans and New England in 2010. And yeah, I guess Peyton Hillis made the Madden cover in 2011. And I'm sure my Twitter history would indicate a number of other Browns moments that gave me joy, but mostly drew my ire over the past six years.

But nothing has had me as fired up as my desire for the Browns to take Johnny Manziel in tomorrow's NFL Draft.

I'll save you my tortured Cleveland Sports Fan stories. We all have the same ones and quite frankly, I'm tired of our perpetual ‘woe is me' attitude. But perhaps the most frustrating thing about rooting for this franchise for the past 15 years is that many of the seasons have started as hopeless as they ended.

At the very least, Johnny Football would change that.

Much like the night the Cavs won the LeBron lottery -- the greatest Cleveland sports moment in my 25-year-old life -- the drafting of Manziel would create an unprecedented buzz in a city in need of just that. Ticket sales, jersey sales and positive P.R. would surely follow. And can you imagine what even the preseason Monday Night Football game against Washington would be like?

Oh, and he might just be able to play quarterback too. In fact, I'm almost certain he can.

Johnny Football isn't just a Tim Tebow sideshow. This is a guy who led all Automatic-Qualifying conference quarterbacks with a 73.5 percent completion percentage from the pocket last season. This is a guy who completed 54.9 percent of his passes longer than 15 yards -- 15 percentage points higher than the AQ average. And this is a guy who single-handily took down national champion Alabama in 2012 and posted quarterback ratings of 149.1 and 198.1 in the two bowl games -- both wins -- of his college career.

Even if Manziel doesn't pan out -- and I maintain he will -- and the No. 4 pick is wasted, the damage done won't be as severe as some would expect. Drafting Brandon Weeden in 2012 set the Browns back just two seasons and thanks to the new CBA, Manziel being a bust wouldn't be any different.

Plus, if the Browns don't draft Manziel, they're already setting themselves back a year as they (presumably) wait on Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariotta next year. So in the worst case scenario with Manziel, you're now facing a one-year setback or a two-year setback. To me, the reward far outweighs the risk.

And then there's this: if not Manziel, then who do you take at No. 4? Assuming Jadeveon Clowney goes first to Houston, the names being mentioned most are Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack.

Considering the Browns already have Joe Thomas at left tackle, I'm not comfortable using a top-four pick on a right tackle while already paying Thomas and Alex Mack big contracts. Watkins is a supreme talent, but the Browns already have Josh Gordon and if the Detroit Lions taught us anything, it's that stockpiling wide receivers is meaningless if you don't have anybody to throw the ball to them. With the money being paid to Karlos Dansby, Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo, does it really make sense to use a top-four pick on a 3-4 middle linebacker in Mack?

Since drafting Tim Couch first overall in 1999, the Browns have had eight top-8 picks and traded out of two others. With those picks, the team has taken two defensive linemen, a tight end, a wide receiver, an offensive tackle, a cornerback, a running back and an outside linebacker.

The results have remained the same.

With plenty of weapons on offense and several pieces on defense, the time is now for the Cleveland Browns to take a franchise quarterback.

Don't trade down -- that lands you the Weeden's and Brady Quinn's of the world. Don't try to find the next Tom Brady or Russell Wilson in a mid-late round -- those guys are anomalies. Identify your guy and take him at No. 4. The quarterback position is so important that if one is worth a first round pick, he should be worth your top-four pick.

If that guy is somebody other than Johnny to the Browns front office, so be it. I like him for both his football ability and everything else he brings to the table. And while I'm not 100 percent certain that he'd be successful in Cleveland, I can almost be sure that he'd be a star anywhere else.

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