Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
The improv skills, the scrambling ability, the rocket arm ... there's a lot to like about Johnny Manziel. Even if you aren't thrilled with his mechanics or his lack of height, you have to admit, this is one tough dude we're talking about.
But is he the right dude?
For one team, he will be. And that's the beauty of the NFL Draft. Despite a player's shortcomings, and Manziel has plenty, you only need one team to fall in love with you.
Of course, that's never been a problem for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. If you want Johnny Football to be your quarterback of the future, you better get to the draft early. Something tells me he won't be around for very long.
With that in mind, here are six teams that have a reasonable shot at landing the former Texas A&M quarterback on Thursday night.
Houston Texans (No. 1 pick)
Manziel to Houston makes an incredible amount of sense, which is why it probably won't happen. Houston needs a quarterback (edit: a good quarterback) and Manziel's rock star persona is exactly the jolt of energy the fan base needs after last year's disappointing 2-14 season. Plus Manziel is from Texas, which will only make his transition to the NFL that much easier. Andre Johnson's presence combined with Arian Foster's recent back trouble makes it an ideal landing spot for fantasy purposes.
Alas, the Texans seem to be enamored with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. There's nothing wrong with Clowney. In fact, he's excellent. But he plays the same position as 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, which means he doesn't fill a need for them. If there's any chance Manziel could fall out of the top-five, Houston should trade its No. 1 selection to Atlanta and grab Manziel with the sixth pick. That possibility seems to be gaining some momentum within the organization.
St. Louis Rams (No. 2 pick)
Taking Manziel here would be a bold move for St. Louis but it might be worth the risk. Sam Bradford is a decent enough option at QB but his ceiling isn't as high as Manziel's. Cutting Bradford, a near certainty if the team drafts Manziel, would also free up $27 million in cap room over the next two seasons. That's certainly something the Rams will have to take into consideration.
As for Manziel's fantasy value in St. Louis, well it wouldn't be great. The team is banking on Tavon Austin to become a superstar but for now, he's just a gadget receiver. Kenny Britt has flashed potential in the past but not lately (no touchdowns in 2013). With inconsistent receivers and a strong running game, Manziel's free-lancing tendencies would probably be better utilized somewhere else.
Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 3 pick)
The Jaguars pegged Chad Henne as the starter a while back but now it sounds like they're having second thoughts. Henne hasn't shown us much in the NFL (75.3 QB rating in 61 career games) so taking a QB at No. 3 may not be a bad idea.
The small market Jags may not suit Manziel's rock star lifestyle but it wouldn't be a bad fantasy fit. Cecil Shorts is a target machine when healthy (66 catches in 13 games last season) and Toby Gerhart is one of the more sure- handed receivers in the game among halfbacks.
Of course, Justin Blackmon's off-field issues have complicated things for Jacksonville. If the Jaguars move on from Blackmon, wide receiver Sammy Watkins out of Clemson might be too good to pass up at No. 3.
Cleveland Browns (No. 4 pick)
With Houston, St. Louis and Jacksonville all in the mix for Manziel, it's going to be interesting to see how Cleveland plays this. They desperately need a quarterback but they also have the No. 26 pick in the draft, which gives them a bit of a safety net. Manziel and Blake Bortles would be off the board by then but David Carr and Teddy Bridgewater might still be around.
Fantasy owners should be on their knees praying that Manziel ends up in Cleveland. Josh Gordon was the best receiver in football last season (1,646 receiving yards in only 14 games) and Jordan Cameron (917 yards, 7 TD in 2013) looks like he could be the next Rob Gronkowski at tight end. The Browns could still trade for Washington backup Kirk Cousins but that should only be a last resort if Manziel or Bortles falls out of their reach.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 7 pick)
I don't think Manziel will be around at No. 7 but you can bet the Buccaneers will be taking a long look at him if he is. Mike Glennon was perfectly fine last season but he isn't someone you build a franchise around. Neither is Josh McCown, a career backup who turns 35 in July.
Mike Williams didn't work out (traded to Buffalo last month) but at least Manziel would still have Vincent Jackson (3,714 receiving yards since 2011) to throw to. Did I mention the average high temperature in Tampa is 89 in September? Manziel could do a lot worse than the Bucs.
Minnesota Vikings (No. 8 pick)
The Vikings seem reluctant to take a QB at No. 8 but if for some reason Manziel is still around, they may entertain the idea. Matt Cassel is under contract for two more seasons, which is pretty depressing given his 80.5 career quarterback rating. Taking Manziel here would certainly give Vikings fans hope for the future.
Minnesota may not be the worst landing spot for Manziel but it's right up there. Greg Jennings is in steep decline (hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2010) and it's a coin flip as to whether Kyle Rudolph can fulfill his enormous potential (313 yards, 3 TD in eight games last season). This has and always will be Adrian Peterson's team. For a headstrong guy like Manziel, playing the sidekick may not sit well.
Thursday, the world will meet Johnny Pro Football. And one lucky team will meet its franchise quarterback.
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