Playing the prevarication game with Manziel
The longer we go without hearing the name Johnny Manziel attached to the Browns’ first choice in the National Football League college draft May 8, the more I believe that’s exactly who they will choose (if he’s there) when called on the clock by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
We have been told the club is not in love with any of the four quarterbacks mentioned as first-round fodder. Not Teddy Bridgewater. Not Blake Bortles. Not Derek Carr. And certainly not Manziel.
We have heard names like wide receiver Sammy Watkins, defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney and linebacker Khalil Mack associated with the first pick. All are legitimate choices.
So what exactly does all that mean? At this time of the NFL season, it means absolutely nothing. In fact, it might mean quite the opposite. After all, it is silly season when lying is the norm.
Prevarication is in season at this time of the year. It blooms on a daily basis until May 8. Everyone does it. Say one thing and mean something entirely different. No such thing as a guilty conscience at this time of the season.
The Browns, of course, are not tipping their hand. It’s way too early, anyway, to hone in on a particular player since we are still more than seven weeks away from the lottery. A lot can happen in that span to change plans.
That’s a very long time in which a club can change its mind any number of times. But it is more than a little curious that General Manager Ray Farmer indicated early on that a quarterback is not on the Browns’ radar, at least in the first round.
That could change, of course, depending on whether they can procure the services of a veteran quarterback to battle Brian Hoyer for the starting job.
Matt Schaub is still a possibility, but the Houston Texans are playing hardball and have stubbornly refused to release the high-priced quarterback and put him on the open market, hoping to extract something in a trade for him. Maybe the Browns are playing the waiting game in hopes the Texans will blink and finally cut him loose.
If the Browns lose that waiting game, then a quarterback definitely has to be part of the first-round draft strategy, Farmer’s and the club’s denials notwithstanding, they can’t head into the 2014 season with Brian Hoyer unchallenged.
Again assuming he’s there, drafting Manziel would give the team an identity. And if there is a team that desperately needs an identity, it’s the Browns. They would immediately become much more relevant as a news story with him on the roster.
The media loves him. He is a magnet, a lightning rod. No matter where he lands in the NFL, no matter what he does, the heavyweights of the media will be there, especially the electronic media. It happened with Tim Tebow several years ago and Tebow wasn’t nearly as talented or NFL ready as Manziel.
So let’s not totally rule out the possibility that Farmer is being extremely coy, if not downright evasive, when it comes to Manziel. For all we know, which isn’t as much as we’d like, the Cleveland GM realizes that and has set his sights on the former Texas A&M quarterback
He just doesn’t want anyone else to know that.