Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has declared for the 2014 NFL draft – making official what almost everyone knew was coming since about October of 2012, when he was in the midst of putting together a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign.
Now that Manziel has entered the 2014 NFL draft, the speculation has begun about where he will be picked, which teams have their eye on him and how great of an impact he’ll have as an NFL quarterback.
In the eye of Hurricane Johnny sit the St. Louis Rams, who possess the no. 2 overall pick thanks to Washington.
With all the NFL’s defensive rule changes over the past few years, the league has become heavily reliant on quarterbacks. Specifically really good ones. Take a look at the eight remaining playoff teams. Every single one of those teams employ an elite veteran quarterback (Manning, Brady, Rivers, Brees) or a very good young (and cheap) quarterback who is well on his way to becoming elite (Newton, Luck, Wilson, Kaepernick).
Unfortunately, because of his ACL injury, the Rams aren’t quite sure yet what they have yet in Sam Bradford. He’s certainly not on the level of any of the eight guys I mentioned, but the Rams believe he can be that guy given the right situation. It therefore seems likely that the organization will stick with Bradford in 2014, which I’m in favor of.
However, the four teams surrounding the Rams in the draft are all in need of a franchise quarterback, and – thanks to Manziel declaring for the draft – there just so happen to be three quarterbacks who project as top-five picks – and four who project as top-eight, according to SI’s latest mock draft. Let’s take a look at the teams in the top five and who their incumbent quarterbacks are.
- Houston Texans – Matt Schaub (unrestricted free agent)
- St. Louis Rams (via Washington) – Sam Bradford
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Chad Henne, Blaine Gabbert
- Cleveland Browns – Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell
- Oakland Raiders – Matt McGloin, Terrelle Pryor
Woof! Bradford looks like John Freaking Elway compared to that sad-sack list. All four of those teams could – and should – be scouting the hell out of the top four quarterbacks. Speaking of which, let’s list out the top four quarterbacks in order. According to most scouting websites, they are:
- Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
- Blake Bortles, UCF
- Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- Derek Carr, Fresno State
Keep in mind, that we are a full four months away from the draft, so a lot can change in the next 120 days. But as of right now, the consensus seems to be that the Texans will select Bridgewater and that the Jaguars and Browns will take Bortles and Manziel at the no. 3 and no. 4 slots – the order of which is up in the air right now.
That leaves the Raiders, at no. 5, on the outside looking in when it comes to grabbing one of those three quarterbacks. Additionally, the Minnesota Vikings, at no. 8 are in need of a quarterback.
So you know what this means: Against all odds, the Rams are in almost the exact same position they were in 2012 – the last time they held the no. 2 pick. As of right now, there is no clear RGIII to Bridgewater’s role as Andrew Luck in this draft. But again, we’re four months away from the Texans making the first pick. And Manziel’s declaration for the draft helps add to the “potential franchise quarterback” market, which therefore increases the odds that some team is going to fall in love with Bortles, Manziel or Carr and therefore look to jump ahead of the Jaguars and Browns to get him.
Rams general manager Les Snead is already on the record that the Rams are willing to trade again.
“What always happens at the top of the draft is who needs QBs?” Snead told the St. Louis Dispatch. “How many QBs do people think are worthy? Then it’s just a supply-and-demand thing. Last year there were no QBs that went early. This year, you just don’t know that yet.”
Snead’s absolutely right. As I’ve already mentioned a couple times, we’re a long way off from the draft. A lot can happen between now and May 8th.
But the Rams are certainly in a favorable position. They may not get an RGIII-sized plunder this time around, but they might come close and thus start this cycle all over again.
You’re obviously going to hear a lot about Manziel’s off-field behavior leading up to the draft. Get up to speed by checking out Manziel’s top-10 off the field moments.