Mel Kiper Jr. has Johnny Manziel going No. 1 overall

This may now require a trade

This may now require a trade

ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr. lifted the curtain on his first of many mock drafts as we head into May and his preliminary output has several surprises, chief of which: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel going No. 1 overall.

Manziel’s name has always been big, but his stock related to the NFL Draft has seen an incredible ascent. Just weeks ago, he was given a grade that pegged him being selected toward the latter half of the first round. Kiper’s partner in crime, Todd McShay, had Manziel as the third-best quarterback in what was his first mock draft—a slot that would be linked to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 4 pick. Today, however, Kiper is the next draft analyst to have the electric, headline-making quarterback at the top of his list. Here’s why:

I spoke to a number of high-ranking NFL evaluators this week, and this is the one QB anyone felt certain was a top-5 pick. So consider this an early bet, with one major caveat: Bill O’Brien just arrived, is still putting his staff together, knows a good QB when he sees one, and hasn’t had enough time (if any) to study the draft class. But we know quarterback is a major need here. O’Brien likes a QB with presence, a leader and a guy who will out-prepare the competition. And while Manziel has gotten his share of bad press, he’s a dynamic talent, and I feel he can lead at the next level; I’m not alone in that opinion. While Manziel is currently ranked No. 11 on my Big Board, this reflects the draft.

 Manziel doesn’t fit the old prototypes of a QB drafted No. 1, and I have concerns about how well he can protect himself given his smaller frame, but he is a magician on the field, and is made for the current NFL. This league protects and welcomes QBs who can improvise, run and make plays beyond the playbook. It’s early, but Manziel is a special player and has the draft process to prove it further.

Kiper, as you may have noticed, has laced this entire mock draft with caveats. This makes sense given the amount of time that is yet to pass between today and the actual draft. This said, ranking Manziel first overall, ahead of more polished passers like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and UCF’s Blake Bortles (who he has linked to the Browns at No. 4) is surprising.

Ohio State fans will have mixed emotions with regard to the mock as linebacker Ryan Shazier was completely left out of the first round. That said, Kiper has running back Carlos Hyde being selected by the Browns with the 26th-overall pick, the one that was, ironically, acquired in the deal for running back Trent Richardson. Naturally, the draftnik also insinuated that it is very unlikely to happen given the potential for a trade or a quarterback like Fresno State’s David Carr (also left out of the first round) to be selected there.

Silver lining: Kiper listed Cleveland’s situation as “a really attractive environment for a young quarterback to grow and succeed.” When’s the last time this could be said with a straight face?

  • MrCleaveland

    I wouldn’t put too much stock in this. Kiper’s mock coaching hires was way off the mark.

  • mgbode

    other players Kiper will have listed #1 overall in the coming weeks to drive page clicks:

    Clowney
    Bridgewater
    Bortles
    D.Carr (w/ the 1st overall pick, the Houston Texans select D.Carr, QB, Fresno)
    M.Evans (or S. Watkins – he’ll likely pick 1 but not both WR for this honor)
    J.Mathews (to get the OL in there)
    A.Barr (or K.Mack – we’ll see where he and McShay draw straws)

    Then, he’ll put Johnny Football back up there and act as it’s some big revelation before penning a 2 page story on why the Texans just couldn’t pass up Teddy Bridgewater.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Clearly Kiper needs an oil change after this statement: Kiper listed Cleveland’s situation as “a really attractive environment for a young quarterback to grow and succeed.”

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Dude thanks for ruining the ending!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Garry_Owen

    Just wait until Manziel turns in a poor broad jump or a slow shuttle run at the Combine. His stock will drop, ‘cuz that’s the stuff that really shows how well a guy will do in the NFL.
    #Can’tWaitForTheCombine
    #sarcasm

  • Garry_Owen

    Please save or print this prediction. I think this might be 100% true.

  • mgbode

    elite QBs only get measured at the combine
    #JohnnyFootball

  • nj0

    Yeah, I like when he gets all proud because he correctly predicted John Doe would go to Tampa Bay with the 17th pick of the 5th round. So one of your nineteen mocks correctly predicted one pick out of 32. Congrats, clown.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    John Doe is my sleeper for 2015!!!!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Kiper didn’t really say he thought the Browns would draft Carlos Hyde either in a weird way. He said that 26 was about where he thought the league would value Carlos Hyde. Very confusing all around.

    Beyond the mock though, I find it inconcievable that the Browns would value nearly any running back as a first rounder after the way they traded Trent Richardson and talked about being able to acquire running backs in many ways.

  • mgbode

    #CynicalCraig

    (sorry, couldn’t help it)

  • Matthew Grant Anson

    There is no way Bridge falls all the way to number 8. If he’s still around at 4, even if Johnny is too (one of them will be gone though), we gotta go with Teddy.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I don’t think “ironically” means what you think it means. It would be appropriate that the Browns use a pick acquired in the trade of a RB to pick up a RB, right?

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    “I spoke to a number of high-ranking NFL evaluators this week, and this is the one QB anyone felt certain was a top-5 pick.”

    All this is saying is that NFL evaluators are pretty sure that SOMEONE in the top-5 is dumb enough to take Manziel.

  • mgbode

    but who has a top5 pick and has a FO that is considered dumb? oh, sorry.

  • Wow

    I know! I know!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Lets hope I don’t buy this latest mock.

  • CLE23

    agree. carlos hyde will go in the 3d or 4th round. he’s too fat and slow for the nfl. as for the manziel, we should hope he goes #1 so the browns can get a good QB with the 4th pick. or we could pull a Holmgren and trade up for the 3d pick for no reason.

  • Kildawg

    Jacksonville? They did draft a PUNTER in the THIRD ROUND after all.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    sad trombone

  • Horace

    How about Clowney at #4 bc to atone for last year’s mistakes? Remember, our front office drafted a bum OLB in mingo and signed a couple of colossal busts (Kruger and groves).

    How could we not be confident with the Lemon Party/3 stooges running the team…

  • Horace

    And that high-ranking evaluator would be Lombardi. Yippee.