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.

2013 Black Monday: 5 NFL Coaches fired

jim-schwartz-lionsEvery year, the Monday following Week 17 of the NFL regular season is a testy time for losing coaches. This year’s Black Monday was especially brutal as five coaches got the ax. Here’s a look at the unlucky coaches who were fired, along with a few that are still awaiting word on their futures.

Firings

Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland Browns – The Browns didn’t give Chudzinski much time to turn things around in Cleveland. They fired their rookie head coach immediately after his first season ended with a 4-12 record. What was particularly disheartening is that the Browns lost 10 out of their last 11 games. Cleveland ownership voiced disappointment over a “lack of accountability and effort” from Chud’s players. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ name has come up in the rumors involving the coaching search.

Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings – The writing has been on the wall for Frazier for quite some time after the team’s slow start and a disastrous quarterback carousel. Minnesota ownership was hoping that the Vikings would take another step forward after making the playoffs last year; instead, they finished just 5-10-1. Team officials have been working on potential replacements for weeks, and they’ve asked about Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

greg-schiano-hot-seatGreg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay is a team that was built to win this season. Instead, they suffered through a 4-12 season under second-year coach Greg Schiano. Management was concerned that players were no longer responding to Schiano’s hard-driving style, and the Josh Freeman quarterback controversy didn’t help matters. General manager Mark Dominik was also a casualty on Black Monday.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions – No team collapsed as badly as the Lions did down the stretch. After climbing to the top of the NFC North with a 6-3 record, they lost 6 out of their last 7 contests and missed the postseason. Management had already made the decision on Schwartz’s job when the team was eliminated from postseason contention last week.

mike-shanahan-hot-seatMike Shanahan, Washington Redskins – The drama regarding Mike Shanahan has finally come to an end with his Monday morning firing. He was fired after a 3-13 record, which was the second worst in the league. It was no secret that Shanahan clashed with management over what he perceived as their babying of quarterback Robert Griffin III. The matter came to a conclusion when RG III was benched for the final three games to “prevent any injuries.”

Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans – Kubiak wasn’t a Black Monday firing, but rather axed on December 12th after the team had lost 11 straight games. Team management also didn’t like the way that Kubiak handled the quarterback situation between Matt Schaub and Case Keenum. Add in the fact that many expected Houston to contend for a Super Bowl and it’s pretty clear why Kubiak was fired. Several candidates have already been interviewed, including former Bears coach Lovie Smith, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and Texans interim coach Wade Phillips.

Still Uncertain

dennis-allen-oaklandDennis Allen, Oakland Raiders – Before Oakland played the Denver Broncos, it was generally thought that both coach Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie would be safe. However, there are no guarantees following a 4-12 season, which ended with an embarrassing 34-14 loss to Denver, where the Broncos were leading 31-0 at halftime.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys – For the second year in a row, Garrett’s team lost the NFC East on the final game of the season. Owner Jerry Jones appears likely to keep Garrett, but defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s job could be in serious jeopardy.

Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins – Miami was in the driver’s seat of their playoff destiny, but finished with losses to two subpar teams (Buffalo, NY Jets) to close out the season. Owner Stephen Ross didn’t exactly give any vote of confidence after saying that he has “a lot to think about” with regard to Philbin and GM Jeff Ireland’s jobs.

mike-munchak-tennesseeMike Munchak, Tennessee Titans – It was another up-and-down season for the Titans, with them finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs. And the hard-running, clock-management style that Tennessee is trying to push faltered in the middle of the season. Star running back Chris Johnson won’t be back. Is the same true of Munchack?

Job Security

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants – Two years removed from a Super Bowl, nobody expected Tom Coughlin to be coaching for his job. However, a dismal 0-6 start got the press talking about Coughlin’s future with the organization. But early word is that, following a 7-3 finish to the season, it’s up to Coughlin to decide if he wants to stay with the team.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets – Many believe that Ryan did a commendable job with the Jets since this season was projected to be a rebuilding effort. However, Ryan coached them to a .500 record and ended the year on a positive note with two straight wins.

Ed Reed cut Loose after ripping the Texans

ed-reed-cut-houstonIn his 12-year NFL career, Ed Reed has proven to be one of the greatest safeties of all-time. And after winning a Super Bowl with the Ravens last year, he was expected to bring this greatness to the Houston Texans. However, the 35-year-old was more of a bust than anything, and now he’s been cut loose by the Texans after some controversial comments.

Following Houston’s 27-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Reed said that his team was “outcoached and outplayed” during Sunday’s game. When asked if he still believed this on Monday, the nine-time Pro Bowler confirmed his assertion that Houston was outcoached. Reed also added that the offense “can’t keep going three and out, and put your defense back on the field.”

A large reason for Reed’s comments may have come from the fact that he was left out of the starting lineup for the Cardinals game. And he played just 12 snaps throughout the entire four quarters.

Of course, this should come as no surprise to those who’ve been watching the Texans all season since Reed has continually gone downhill. He began 2013 with some minor injuries, and when he did play, it wasn’t exactly inspiring. So when you combine Reed’s lack of playing time with his negative comments about the coaching staff, it was a fairly easy decision for Houston to let him go.

ed-reed-cut-houston-1This is yet another blow to the Texans dismal season, which began with Super Bowl aspirations. In fact, Reed was brought in as a missing piece to a team that had most of the components needed for a strong defense. He signed a three-year, $15 million deal in what was one of the biggest offseason acquisitions.

But for the few million that he received before getting cut, all Reed provided was 16 tackles in seven games. Gone was the ball-hawking safety who’d piled up 61 interceptions and seven touchdowns through his first 11 seasons in Baltimore.

So what’s the next stop for this aging safety who quickly wore out his welcome in Texas? Well a return to the Ravens isn’t out of the question since Reed carved out a very successful career here. A contender like New England wouldn’t be a surprise either since Stephen Gregory is out, and Bill Belichick might be looking for a veteran replacement. The New York Jets could be another possibility because Reed’s former defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan, is always looking to add good defensive players to the Jets.

As for the Texans, they are looking towards next season with a 2-7 record. Case Keenum has officially taken the starting QB job from Matt Schaub. And Arian Foster has been put on the injured reserve list since there’s little reason to keep trying to play him. All in all, this has been a nightmare for a team that went 12-4 in the 2012 regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs, losing to New England 41-28 in the Divisional round.