If you’re looking for a favorite to win the 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel is certainly an intriguing name. According to our sportsbook at GTBets.eu, he currently carries the second-best odds at 8-to-1, tied with Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron and Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans. All three currently trail Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins, whom we’ve given 6-to-1 odds of winning the ROTY.
Anyways, focusing on Manziel, does he really have what it takes to be a dominant player in his rookie season. Well if we’re judging this based on offseason activities, Johnny Football may not be the best-prepared player when the 2014 NFL season kicks off. He set an unofficial record for partying with the most celebrities in his very first offseason, something that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has finally gotten tired of. “I think the really great athletes make their news on the field, not off the field,” Haslam said. “Has that message sunk in yet? We’ll see.”
Of course, few people are doubting Manziel’s on-field skills. The Texas A&M product became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy award after passing for over 3,000 yards and rushing for over 1,000 yards. In all, he tallied 7,820 passing yards, 63 passing TD’s, 22 INT’s, 2,169 rushing yards and 30 rushing TD’s in his two years with the Aggies. And that’s what Manziel would like everybody to remember going into the season as he stated:
Here’s the thing I want to say. The reason I’m popular, the reason people follow me and there’s been such a buzz around me, when I went out on Saturdays at Texas A&M, I played with an extreme amount of passion and I played with my heart on my sleeve. But more than anything I had fun. I had fun playing this game, I had fun going on out on this field playing football. That’s what I live for, that’s what I do. The same thing off the field. Whether I’m going out and playing golf, whether it’s going out and having the nightlife, whatever it is, I’m having fun. That’s what my life is. And luckily for me I’m living out my dream of playing in the NFL, having a ton of fun.
Manziel went on to say that he doesn’t want to use being 21 as an excuse, but he still has some maturing to do. These aren’t usually the comments that we hear from future rookie-of-the-year winners. So this definitely casts some skepticism on how the quarterback could perform in 2014. Another thing that Manziel has to worry about is Brian Hoyer, who showed some major promise last season.
Hoyer played high school ball at Cleveland St. Ignatius, went undrafted from Michigan State, then backed up Tom Brady in three seasons at New England. He’s an unheralded, gritty player who’s spent most of his career as an understudy – pretty much the opposite of Manziel. If the latter doesn’t look ready, Hoyer is more than capable of starting a portion or all of the year, as he proved by racking up 615 passing yards, 5 TD’s and 3 INT’s before getting injured.
So the first step for Manziel will be proving that he can play the position better than Hoyer, which is no small task. Assuming Johnny Football can win the starting job at some point, the next task will be rekindling some of that magic he showed at Texas A&M. Given his multi-threat skills, this isn’t an impossible feat. But Manziel is going to have to remain 100% focused moving forward.