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.