Johnny Manziel to Second Round of NFL Draft?

johnny-manziel-nflTrying to predict where Johnny Manziel is going in the 2014 NFL Draft is like trying to predict which numbers will win the lottery. Every mock draft that comes out has the Texas A&M star heading to a different team, with the Houston Texans (#1 pick), Jacksonville Jaguars (#3), Cleveland Browns (#4) and Oakland Raiders (#5) often coming up in the discussion. But former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King has a different take on the matter:..

In a recent mock draft of the first round that King did, he doesn’t even have Manziel going in the first round. This is pretty shocking when you consider how mesmerized some teams like the Browns have been with Johnny Football’s duel-threat ability. So what’s the deal here? Has King bought into all of the insults that Barry Switzer hurled Manziel’s way? Is he turned off by how the Heisman Trophy winner measured just under six feet at the Combine?

Actually, King just thinks that the unpredictability that Manziel brings is enough to make head coaches and general managers worry about risking their jobs to draft him. Here’s an excerpt from King’s Yahoo post:

shaun-king-footballThe Johnny Manziel conundrum is one the more interesting evaluation dilemmas to hit NFL evaluators in a long time. I don’t have him being drafted in the first round. Not because I don’t think he has a chance to be a good player, but because I don’t think teams will be able to come to an internal consensus on him.

When a team takes a quarterback in Round 1, a lot of jobs are on the line. If that player doesn’t pan out the general manger and head coach generally aren’t there to choose a second one. Jacksonville, Cleveland and Minnesota all need QBs now, yet they all drafted one in the first round in the last three years. Only Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is left standing; the rest, including all three head coaches, are gone.

Nobody is going to take Shaun King’s mock-draft advice over Mel Kiper Jr’s. However, his reasoning for not putting Manziel does bring up a legitimate point in that Johnny Football may be too risky for one of the top five teams to bet their jobs on a running QB who’s not even six feet tall. There’s a good chance that Manziel comes out and plays like RG III did in his rookie campaign, however, there’s also the chance that he becomes the next Christian Ponder/Blaine Gabbert/Brandon Weeden.

Going back to King, he believes that Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is the “most complete NFL ready QB since Andrew Luck,” and he has the Texans grabbing Bridgewater with the top overall pick. Predictably, Auburn OT Greg Robinson goes to the Rams at number two, while South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney goes to the Jaguars at number three. King also sends Clemson WR Sammy Watson to Cleveland with the fourth pick and Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald to the Raiders at number five.

We doubt that UCF quarterback Blake Bortles falls out of the top-5 range, especially with four teams who could really use a QB sitting there. But it’s still interesting to see a mock draft that doesn’t think teams will still be desperately reaching for the next Luck.

Don’t expect Raiders to pass on a Good Quarterback

teddy-bridgewater-louisvilleOnce again, the Oakland Raiders are coming off a very disappointing season where they finished 4-12 and were nowhere near the playoff picture. And once again, they have the opportunity to land a high draft pick who could make a huge impact on the struggling franchise.

The Raiders pick fifth in the 2014 NFL Draft and their immediate focus appears to be on a quarterback. Head coach Dennis Allen indicated this by saying that QB is “a position we’ve obviously got to look at.”

The word “obviously” definitely fits here because Oakland’s returning quarterbacks, Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, don’t yet seem capable of leading a team to success. Pryor initially caused a spark after beating out Matt Flynn for the starting job in training camp. He rushed for 162 yards in the first two games of the 2013 season and led Oakland to a 1-1 record. Pryor was knocked out of the third game with a concussion and never developed any passing rhythm after coming back.

Pryor’s Week 9 MCL sprain gave undrafted rookie Matt McGloin an opportunity to start. Although he proved to be a better pure pocket passer with 1,547 yards, 8 TD’s and 8 INT’s, McGloin only led the Raiders to one win in his seven appearances.

Given their options, Oakland could definitely grab a more heralded signal caller. And the 2014 Draft class has a number of strong QB prospects, with Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles leading the way.

The only problem is that there are three other teams with pressing quarterback needs themselves. The Houston Texans, Jacksvonille Jaguars and Cleveland Browns all pick ahead of Oakland and could take a QB. Houston might go quarterback or defense, while experts definitely expect Jacksonville and Cleveland to go QB.

But this certainly hasn’t stopped Oakland from spending countless hours looking at game footage of passers. After watching the tape, Manziel is one prospect who really sticks out in Allen’s mind as he said:

He’s accomplished a lot at the collegiate level he’s been a very good football player being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy speaks for itself. I think he’s a very talented football player, he’s a multidimensional football player. He’s able to throw the ball from the pocket and do things with his feet. As we get more into the evaluation process he’ll be a fun one to look at.

Once again, though, Oakland needs to prepare for a scenario in which they don’t get Manziel or the other two top signal callers. There are plenty of other potential stars in the draft, including South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Auburn left tackle terrelle-pryor-raidersGreg Robinson. Plus, the team doesn’t sound like they’re entirely down on the returning quarterbacks. “One of those things we have to determine,” said Allen with regard to who’ll start next year. “We’re going to look at that position very closely. In my opinion we’ve got two young quarterbacks with potential.”

However, Allen played devil’s advocate by saying, “I don’t know the answer to that yet. The quarterback position is the backbone of your football team. We’ve got to make sure that when we go out there this year, we put ourselves in the best position to have success with the quarterback position.”

Assuming Oakland really feels some urgency in this draft, they might consider trading up into one of the top three positions. But is it worth sacrificing other draft picks to move up for one player when you’re a team that needs so much? Maybe so, when you consider the large amount of quarterback failures that Oakland has experienced over the past several years.

Blake Bortles: Top Pick in 2014 NFL Draft?

blake-bortles-top-draft-pickSeveral months ago, it was thought that either Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney were going to be the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, other players like Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews and his teammate, QB Johnny Manziel, have also been discussed as the potential top overall pick. Now, you can add Central Florida QB Blake Bortles to the list of potential number one’s as well.

Bortles has always been considered a high pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. But it wasn’t until new Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien talked highly of him that Bortles has suddenly leapt up the mock draft charts. “Blake is a good-sized guy. He’s an athletic guy for his size. He’s an accurate passer,” O’Brien said. “The guys who coached him at Central Florida think highly of him as a young man who really studies the game. He works hard at the game.”

If it seems like O’Brien is especially high on Bortles, he’s because he got to see the young signal caller up close and personal. The 6’4″ QB led Central Florida over O’Brien’s Penn State team by a score of 34-31. Bortles had 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in that contest.

blake-bortles-top-draft-pick-1Aside from seeing him play, O’Brien also had a connection to Bortles through UCF coach George O’Leary. The former Penn State coach worked under O’Leary for eight seasons at Georgia Tech. So he should get a very accurate and favorable scouting report from O’Leary.

Another factor that goes in Bortles’ favor is the fact that he’s a prototypical pocket passer, something which neither Bridgewater nor Manziel are. Given that O’Brien’s college offense centered around a pocket passer, he’s likely to look for the same when he’s running the Texans next season.

Of course, we can’t quite rule out Jadeveon Clowney, despite him not living up to the sky-high expectations placed on him this past college football season. However, there’s no denying Clowney’s talent, which was easily evident in a sophomore year where he racked up 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses. Add in the fact that Houston owner Bob McNair said his team is open to taking a defensive player first, and this is a likely possibility.

Provided the Texans take Clowney, the Rams would likely take another position other than quarterback, seeing as how they have Sam Bradford already. This would leave the Jacksonville Jaguars (third), Cleveland Browns (fourth) and Oakland Raiders (fifth) left to scoop Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel. All three of these teams desperately want a QB of the future, and they could find it this year.

With so much uncertainty at the top of the 2014 NFL Draft, it’ll definitely be exciting to see who goes where. Whatever happens, though, hopefully none of the top picks end up on the list of biggest NFL Draft busts.

Should the Texans really trade the Number One Pick?

teddy-bridgewater-louisvilleNothing in the NFL news will overshadow the Wild Card games this weekend. Nevertheless, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair did manage to steal a headline or two when he declared that Houston is open to trading the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. “Maybe we’ll trade down and still get a quarterback that can do the job and get an outstanding defensive player,” McNair said. “It’s an exciting time. Everything’s a moving target. Lot of different pieces.”

When you lose 14 games in a row like the Texans did, you should be open to anything. But is this a draft where Houston really wants to trade the top selection away for more picks? After all, many consider this draft to be pretty rich in quarterbacks, and if anybody needs an outstanding signal caller, it is the Texans. But on the other hand, maybe McNair is saying this because they haven’t fallen in love with any players.

With Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater officially declaring for the draft, many see him as the best quarterback prospect available. Several months ago, it was considered a two-man battle between Bridgewater and South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney for who’d be the number one overall pick in 2014. However, Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews has since shot up the board and is also in contention for the top selection. This being said, is it worth holding on to the number one overall pick for Houston?

johnny-manzielThis is an especially pertinent question when you consider that other worthy quarterbacks like A&M’s Johnny Manziel, UCF’s Blake Bortles, and Fresno State’s Derek Carr all warrant high first-round consideration. Okay, so you can probably thrown Derek Carr out of the mix because his older brother, David, didn’t exactly pan out as Houston’s inaugural draft pick.

Chances are, though, the Texans are taking a quarterback at some point in the first round, whether they trade down for a lower pick or keep the number one selection. They’ve got Matt Schaub and Case Keenum on the roster right now. Schaub is looked at as an aging has-been who contributed to Houston’s downfall with all of his pick-sixes. Keenum showed some flashes of brilliance, but he never clearly locked down the starting QB role when given a chance.

Of course, there’s always the potential curveball, where Houston could take a defensive player or offensive tackle like Matthews. Texans general manager Rick Smith alluded to this with the following statement:

I don’t think you take a particular position just because you need a particular position at any point in the draft, especially the first pick. So we’ll rank it, we’ll value it, and we’ll make good choices if the opportunity presents itself to move back because it is a very valuable pick, and we’ll entertain those as well.

Looking at Houston’s history, it may not be so crazy to go defense with the top overall choice. In 2007, they made the controversial decision to select DE Mario Williams over the more-electrifying and popular pick, Reggie Bush. And while Bush has had his share of NFL success, it is Williams whom many think boasts the better career. Taking this into consideration, Clowney, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack can’t be left out of the number-one-overall discussion either.

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that McNair has already created some NFL Draft excitement months in advance of the big day.

Should the New York Jets draft a QB in 2014?

geno-smith-jetsWhen the New York Jets took Geno Smith with the 39th overall pick this past draft, many thought New York was drafting their quarterback of the future. Sure there were questions regarding Smith’s professionalism and late-season decline at West Virginia. But his talent was evidently enough to warrant an early second-round draft choice.

The buzz around Smith only grew as he beat out a banged-up Mark Sanchez for the starting QB job. The young signal caller fared pretty well in his first game, completing 24-of-38 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown. Smith also showed off his 4.59-forty speed by adding 47 yards on the ground. More importantly, he led New York to an 18-17 win over Tampa Bay.

Since this time, Smith has been up and down, with mostly downs to speak of lately. His statline reads of a quarterback who’d normally be benched by this point: 2,227 passing yards, 8 TD’s and 18 INT’s.

It’s worth mentioning that Smith has also added 178 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. But this isn’t nearly enough to make up for the 18 interceptions that he’s geno-smith-jets-1tossed so far. The last four games have been particularly bad, with Smith throwing for zero touchdowns and 7 INT’s. And if the Jets had a reliable veteran at quarterback this season, you have to wonder if they’d be much better than 5-6.

This might be the question that New York management asks themselves throughout the offseason. Going further, is it already time for the Jets to start thinking about taking another quarterback next year?

It’s certainly too early to completely write Smith off at this point. After all, starting in the NFL as a rookie is an extremely tough task, especially when you’re not a guaranteed franchise savior like Andrew Luck. But if Smith is to truly be the Jets’ QB of the future, he’s going to have to make some significant improvements in accuracy and getting rid of the ball on time.

It doesn’t help the former Mountaineer’s case that the 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with talent at the quarterback position. There are potentially 5-6 signal callers who could be major game-changers at the next level. Fresno State’s Derek Carr, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd lead the seniors, while Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley head up the draft-eligible underclassmen.

geno-smith-jets-2The latter three prospects are virtually guaranteed a first-round selection, while the three seniors could go late in the first round or at some point in the second round. In any case, the Jets are going to have plenty of chances at drafting a good QB, even if they don’t trade up in the 2014 Draft.

Of course, everything is up in the air for New York right now. Geno Smith could suddenly come out and play much better, leading his team to several more wins and instilling some confidence among management. Given that the Jets are still very much alive in the AFC Wild Card race, Smith leading them to the postseason would really boost his stock.

But at the moment, with his 7 interceptions in the last four games, he’s really going to have to show something over the next few weeks. Or the Jets could be welcoming their new QB of the future on the draft podium next spring.

College Football Power Rankings for Week 4 (Sept. 20th, 2013)

alabama-texas-amNow three weeks into the 2013 college football season, we’ve already see some big matchups. The most notable involved the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide taking on Mr. Heisman Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies last weekend. Despite strong performances by Manziel, WR Mike Evans and RB Ben Malena, the Tide proved too much to handle. That said, it’s little surprise who our top team is in this week’s power rankings.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0); beat Texas A&M 49-42 – Alabama may have given up 628 yards of total offense to the Aggies, but then again, they were facing an elite team. The Tide did what they needed to do to win, and put lots of points on the board themselves.

2. Oregon Ducks (3-0); beat Tennessee 59-14 – Oregon hung the first loss on a previously unbeaten Tennessee team, and looked incredible while doing so. Marcus Mariota showed why he’s one of the top prospects heading into the 2014 NFL Draft after putting up 456 passing yards and 4 TD’s against the hapless Vols.

kenny-guiton-osu3. Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0); beat Cal 52-34 – Most teams would struggle mightily in the absence of their Heisman Trophy candidate. But the Buckeyes just inserted backup QB Kenny Guiton for Braxton Miller (sprained MCL) and scored 52 points on the Golden Bears. OSU still hasn’t been beaten since 2011.

4. Clemson Tigers (3-0); beat NC State 26-14 (Sept 19th) – You could make a case for the Tigers being as high as number two on this list. After all, they beat Georgia to open the year and polished off a tough NC State team on the road. Assuming the wins keep coming, Clemson will keep climbing.

5. LSU Tigers (3-0); beat Kent State 45-13 – The Tigers quickly put the Golden Flashes away after scoring 21 points in the first quarter. Following two easy home victories, they face their biggest test since TCU, as unbeaten Auburn comes to Baton Rouge.

6. Stanford Cardinals (2-0); beat Army 34-20 – Few people expected Army to go into the half only trailing by 7 last Saturday. But the Cardinals were able to pull away thanks to a pair of second-half Tyler Gaffney touchdowns. Stanford will try to look more impressive this week against fellow unbeaten Arizona State tomorrow.

teddy-bridgewater-draft7. Louisville Cardinals (3-0); beat Kentucky 27-13 – Nobody expects the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry game to be a cakewalk. And this was definitely the case in the first half as the Cardinals led just 10-3 at the half. Interestingly enough, Louisville relied on RB Senorise Perry (100YDS, 2TD) to carry them in the second half, rather than famed QB Teddy Bridgewater.

8. Texas A&M Aggies (2-1); lost to Alabama 49-42 – A&M is hurting after a close loss at home to the Crimson Tide. But with a ton of offensive talent and plenty more quality opponents on the schedule, the Aggies’ title hopes haven’t been dashed just yet.

9. Georgia Bulldogs (1-1); beat South Carolina 41-30 – Nobody’s going to argue with Georgia’s early strength of schedule after facing Clemson and South Carolina to open the year. The Bulldogs piled up 536 yards of offense to top the Gamecocks and avoid starting 0-2.

10. Florida State Seminoles (2-0) – Star freshman QB Jameis Winston is definitely living up to the hype after throwing six touchdowns in his first two games. And as many people have pointed out, this is more than the five incompletions he’s thrown. Assuming Winston remains poised, FSU should be undefeated when they travel to Clemson in Week 8.