What does it mean that former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is visiting the Oakland Raiders?
Well, probably nothing. Or, perhaps, everything.
In the months and weeks leading up to the annual NFL draft, every team tries to hide its true intentions as 32 teams jockey for position to get the players they want.
Since trading for veteran quarterback Matt Schaub recently, the Raiders were thought to be out of the running for taking a quarterback with their first-round selection, the fifth overall pick, in the May 8 draft.
But now Manziell reportedly arrived Sunday night in Oakland and also is at team headquarters Monday as well.
The likely scenario is the Raiders are just doing their due diligence and getting some one-on-one time with one of the top picks in the draft. General manager Reggie McKenzie has said he wants playmkers and difference-makers, and it’s now likely that with Schaub, the Raiders believe they can improve in 2014 with Schaub at the controls.
Plus, by bringing in Manziel, the Raiders are making other teams wonder if Oakland might grab Johnny Football.
As ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner wrote recently in an explanatory story about pre-draft deceit (“NFL draft: Deception is standard fare”): “The most common fake-out is a team expressing interest in a prospect it has no interest in taking. The theory is that someone else might want that player, move up to get him and push a player the original team actually wants further down the board.”
So, perhaps, if the Raiders really want wide receiver Sammy Watkins or linebacker Khalil Mack or offensive tackle Greg Robinson, they use Manziel to put themselves in better position to land the prospect they most covet.
Yet there’s also this: If McKenzie, his staff and head coach Dennis Allen truly believe Manziel is something special, they could indeed take him with the fifth pick, let him sit for awhile to soak up the pro game while Schaub starts and then have the young, franchise quarterback they’ve desired for many years.
Manziel wouldn’t necessarily provide much to the 2014 season, but perhaps the Raiders believe they’ve done enough in free agency – with other additions still coming through free agency and the draft – to be much better in the coming season.
As Michael David Smith wrote Sunday for NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk:
“The Raiders often do things that no one expects. The 32-year-old Schaub is the starter right now, but maybe they’ll fall in love with Manziel and make him their franchise quarterback of the future.”
The fact is, McKenzie isn’t telling anybody what his plans are, and we won’t know until May 8 what he’s thinking.
With a month to go before the draft, scenarios and speculation will only increase.