Todd McShay’s latest pegs the Browns with Sammy Watkins AND Johnny Manziel

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Many times throughout the draft process, many point to draftnik types like ESPN’s Todd McShay and say “If he was so good at scouting talent, why isn’t he employed by an NFL team?” Well, this is because his job isn’t necessarily to scout talent, but to use what he knows, coupled with people he speaks with, and produce lists that ultimately link players to specific teams. Naturally, this is a fleeting, thankless job as months of work becomes useless once the NFL Draft has come to an end, save for those who wish to go back and “grade” how people of his ilk did at their job.

In his latest, however, McShay switches gears a bit and says not what he thinks will happen come May 8, but what he would do if he were the GM of the 32 NFL teams. Using his “Big Board,” McShay bends a bit based on need, but maps out what is mostly a Best Player Available scenario throughout the first round—one which lands the Cleveland Browns two high-profile talents in Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

With high-octane ends Jadaveon Clowney and Kahlil Mack going first and third, resepctively, and offensive lineman Greg Robinson going to St. Louis, the Browns switch gears by going offensive play-maker. Take a gander:

I’m beginning to sound like I’m on repeat here, but the Browns are another team that needs a quarterback that I have waiting until later to draft one, because I can’t justify using a top-four pick on any of this year’s QBs. Cleveland needs an upgrade at the No. 2 receiver spot opposite Gordon, and if Watkins reaches his potential, the Browns will essentially have two No. 1s. He is an explosive and dynamic weapon both as a vertical route runner and after the catch, and he attacks the ball in the air, playing bigger than his size. He’ll have some learning to do as a route runner, but he already knows how to separate from coverage.

Blake Bortles then becomes the first quarterback off of the board, going eighth to the Minnesota Vikings. Arizona scoops up Teddy Bridgewater at No. 20, allowing Manziel to slide all the way to 26th.

This pick made sense to me because Manziel is the 19th-ranked prospect on my board, and the Browns need to address the quarterback position. Additionally, I already addressed a need position with an elite player at the No. 4 pick in Sammy Watkins, and having five total picks in the top 83 frees the Browns up to take a chance here. All of those factors make Manziel worth the risk, because the potential pay-off with him — if he can make the necessary adjustments to his game to consistently win from the pocket and protect his body, while still utilizing his rare improvisation skills — is significant. If Manziel gets past the top eight picks on draft night, I think there could be a good trade market to get in place to draft him.

This scenario would satisfy plenty of Browns fans as a team in dire need of skill positions addresses them with two of the biggest names in the draft. Unfortunately, as McShay iterates, the odds of Manziel falling this far and a trade not happening are very slim—the Dallas Cowboys have been recently linked to the Texas product and the Tampa Bay Bucanneers reportedly have the QB on their “short list.”

McShay’s latest isn’t the first piece to have Johnny Manziel sliding down to the Browns at 26, but I’m not certain this makes the possibility any more likely. Personally, if Blake Bortles is available at No. 4, I’ll be shocked if the Browns pass in hopes of obtaining a passer later on. I also hope I’m dead wrong.

[Related: WFNY on the 2014 NFL Draft: Joe Gilbert’s Top Five Quarterbacks]

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Oh boy RGB is gonna explode all over this thread!!!!!! McShay sounds like one of us and I like it. To bad it ain’t gonna happen. The Manziel being around at #26 part especially. Clearly the draft being pushed back is hurting everyone!

  • Al DiFranco

    This is close to my best case scenario for the Browns – I would take Watkins at 4, then leverage one of the two third rounders to move up a few spots and take Manziel later in the first round if he does drop. Then I would take the best of the cornerbacks left in the second round. In the third, might be able to grab Carlos Hyde. My best case scenario would be Watkins-Manziel-Roby-Hyde

  • RGB

    McShay must be reading my notes…I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for a while that we are going to score SAMMY at #4, and JFF at #26.
    If JFF slips, no way does Slick Jimmy not step in and make that pick.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It never hurts to dream I won’t be the wet blanket I’ll just say good luck.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I like the trading back up scenario that would show some real draft day like aggression however. I think Hyde is gone late round one round two for sure but I like the optimism.

  • Anomander

    Does anyone else think that if the Browns think they can get Johnny later in the draft, why not trade back for Mike Evans, his #1 college receiver?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    My fear is that if the Browns don’t trade back, yet draft someone unpopular, fans are going to make it sound like they didn’t try.

  • RGB

    We’ve all seen enough drafts to know, you just never know what’s going to happen.
    It never unfolds the way you think. Never.

  • RGB

    As long as management doesn’t get caught up in the whole “smartest guy in the room” thing…

  • mgbode

    especially now in the new-CBA era. no killer top10 contracts have made those assets much more tradeable and teams move around like crazy.

    I would love for Minnesota to give us a Herschel Walker/Rickey Williams trade to move up to #4 (likely for Manziel if I had to guess).

    Wouldn’t make you happy because I’d take Gilbert at #8 (sammy gone – maybe before #4), but wow that’d make our defense formidable in a hurry.

  • Kildawg

    This mock draft would be good, but I also liked the trade backs in 2009 and 2011 to get reliable players later in those drafts (but players/subsequent picks were essentially squandered). Personally, I think there will be an initial trade down followed by a couple trade ups to land quality players at positions of need (future QB, #2WR, #2ILB, #2CB the biggest needs).

  • mgbode

    I agree with your needs, but would definitely add OG and FS to the list.

  • dwhit110

    Imagine how exciting draft night will be if we draft a non-QB 4th and JFF is still sitting there around #18, which is probably the point where you can start realistically thinking about using our first 3rd rounder with #26 to jump up and grab him.

    I’m excited just thinking about it, especially if Watkins or Mack (the two most talented difference makers IMO) are already onboard.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Watkins at 4, and leverage to move up I agree with, though I’d rather get Teddy or some other position (Mack? a G?).

  • RGB

    If Sammy is gone at #4, I would talk to Tampa…

    http://espn.go.com/nfl/draft2014/story/_/id/10828349/2014-nfl-draft-johnny-manziel-tampa-bay-buccaneers-short-list-candidates-1st-round-pick

    Trade our #4 for their #7, #38, #69, #143, #185, #221.

    Leak that to Minnesota, and let them give us their #8, #40, #72, #96, #108, #148, #184, #223, so they can move ahead of Tampa.

    So, if we can’t get SAMMY, maybe we can play Tampa and Minnesota against each other to score more picks and still stay in the top 10.

  • Harv 21

    Two things:

    – maybe it’s having just seen Draft Day, but in this era of so many empty seats I can totally see a Johnny free fall stopped by any number of owners who order their GMs: “Make … a … splash.” He has rookie year season tix sales written all over him. He’s not there at 26, maybe not even there at 12.

    – This is Ray Farmer’s first draft. Just can’t see him making crazy-legs trades, unless Haslam is hissing stage directions over his shoulder. And that just would not end well.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Anything is possible I’m still holding out hope I’ll become Mr. Candice Swanepoel AND receive the coveted comment of the day here at WFNY.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Um you really think TB will give up that much to move up three spots?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    “Make … a … splash.”

    Sounds like Jerry Jones talking to himself.

  • RGB

    Can’t hurt to ask. Have to work them against each other.

  • mgbode

    My dream scenario is trading with tb or minny, getting their 2nd+ and drafting Gilbert at their pick with three more picks in the top40

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    You make it sound like there’s no pleasing us…oh, right.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Gino fell to Day 2. Not quite the same, but The Hype is not the same as The Board for most (all?) teams. I could easily see any of these quarterbacks grimacing in the Green Room as their stock (and dreams) fall in real time in front of them.

  • mgbode

    sounds like 2007, it’ll cost more than a 3rd

  • mgbode

    big rumblings down here that he wants JFF if he falls to 10 or so

  • saggy

    i like it. i have championed the trade-down scenario this year. Unless Watkins is there, trade down with Buffalo, Tampa, or Minnesota.

  • saggy

    thinking the same thing. Shades of Brady Quinn…

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I like Gilbert too. So many guys in this draft that could help this team elsewhere other then QB.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I heard that as well I think we are all conning ourselves to think Manziel or Bridgewater fall until #26. They should both be gone.

    We discussed Aaron Murray and Connor Shaw I’m also interested in Romo’s alum Jimmy Garoppolo as well. I know he’ll be there at #26 and probably in round 3.

  • mgbode

    I would also gladly take Romo himself if Jerry wants to trade up badly enough (along with their #16, #47, and ’15 1st rounder).

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Picks picks and picks I’m not as big a fan of Romo however.

  • mgbode

    Having a sure thing at QB after the last 15 years would not be a bad thing. He’s not great, but he’s better than Dalton ;)

  • RGB

    Our #4 for all that? Yeah, I could go or that.
    Maybe combine that #16 and #47 to move back into the top 10.

  • mgbode

    Gilbert AND Matthews? And Romo with an extra 2015 1st in our back pocket? Oh yeah!

  • darncat

    we should trade the #4 down to 7 or 8 for the ammunition to move the #26 up to 15 and get Manziel there. With the 7 or 8th pick we get Evans, whom I’d rather have than Watkins as our #2WR (Evans is a huge WR, a ridiculous leaper, great at catching in traffic, an extremely established route runner, and blocks well at the WR2 spot, which is vital for the offense we’ll be using, while Watkins at this point in time really is none of those things…)

    Otherwise, there are some extremely talented WRs with great size who will be available in the 2nd round, who will fit our need at WR more than Watkins would, (who unfortunately imo has a high bust factor) so if we do go QB with the #4, we could still pick up a great CB and WR amongst the #26 and 2nd round picks. These are the 3 needs i think we really need to address early if we can get a solid ILB and OG in the 3rd round. I could also see springing for a top O lineman or ILB earlier and then using the 3rd round pick for the QB/WR/CB need instead. What kind of scares me however is the prospect of drafting a talented but not at a needed position guy like Clowney or Mack because if they don’t turn out to be game changers, you’ve missed out on addressing a key need with the pick. Also, Watkins does, just because a lot of 6’1″-6’2″ WRs with great speed, flair, and playmaking ability (but undetermined route running skills) dominate in college but seem to end up as role players in the NFL; while this is obviously not always the case (and some much smaller WRs have had great success after college in the NFL) and I hope I’m wrong in this instance, I’d still hesitate to take any risk with the #4 in this draft. That’s all just my opinion. Watkins sure looked unstoppable catching screen passes in that game vs tOSU, but even Michigan looked unstoppable on our D at that point. I just haven’t seen Watkins do more than catch screens and run, extremely well- but if that’s all he ends up doing well, he’s not worth more than Travis Benjamin. So I would have to take that risk into account.