Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will likely go somewhere in the first five picks of the draft. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
It would seem a match made in heaven: Johnny Manziel playing for the Oakland Raiders.
The former Texas A&M quarterback would fit right in with the gambling, go-for-broke Raiders image and style of former playmaking quarterbacks in silver and black such as Daryle Lamonica and Kenny Stabler. Manziel – Johnny Football to his legion of A&M fans – plays with an all-out energy and fire.
Last week, when Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie spoke to the media about his team’s multiple needs, he was asked about the possibility of the taking Manziel with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft and it was obvious he’s a big fan.
“He’s a playmaker,” McKenzie told reporters. “Whether it’s him or one of these other guys, when you can add a playmaker, that’s what you shoot for.”
But would Manziel still be around with the fifth pick in the draft?
With the NFL’s annual selection process still weeks away, many believe it’s possible.
In his most recent mock draft this week, NFL Network analyst Matt Smith has the Raiders taking Manziel at No. 5, as the second quarterback selected. He has the Browns, with the fourth pick, taking Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater.
Two other analysts on his same network, former NFL scouts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah, have that order reversed. They believe the Browns will go for Manziel and Bridgewater will fall to the Raiders.
Even Smith at this point says the Browns love Manziel. But Smith believes after all the testing, the workouts and the interviews are completed, Cleveland eventually will opt for Bridgewater, who has better size (6-foot-3) and is a more polished prospect. Said Smith: “He’s one of the best pocket passers we’ve seen in college football in a long while.”
That would leave Manziel for the taking by the Raiders.
“They need a QB and Johnny Football fits the Raiders as well as any team in this league,” wrote Smith. “His strengths fit better in the AFC West than in a ground-and-pound-it-out AFC North with the Browns. This team still needs weapons around him, so they better strike in free agency while hitting a home run with darn near every pick in this draft.”
Manziel’s availability, of course, hinges on several variables, including whether the top three teams selecting in May – the Texans, Rams and Jaguars – pass on a quarterback. Two of those teams, the Texans and Jags, need quarterback help. If one should take Bridgewater or Manziel, it’s possible Oakland would have to go in another direction with its first pick. Right now, Smith has the Texans taking South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney No. 1. He projects the Rams – who have quarterback Sam Bradford – taking Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson No. 2, with the Jags taking UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr next. That scenario would guarantee the Raiders get one of the top two QBs in the draft, Bridgewater or Manziel.
In fact, the most recent mock draft by Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated has the Texans taking Bridgewater, the Jaguars taking Manziel and the Browns taking Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles. That scenario, he says, would push the Raiders in the direction of Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews.
Oakland might then reach for a quarterback in the second round such as Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. The Raiders have already met with Boyd this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., reports Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.
“I think the Raiders have been showing the most (interest) so far,” Boyd told WalterFootball.com this week. “I have a lot of other meetings set up, so we’ll just have to see how the week goes.”
It’s very possible, reported Tafur, that even if the Raiders take a quarterback early or late, they’ll bring in a veteran this offseason to start in 2014, and bring their young QB along slowly and carefully.