When the Cleveland Browns selected Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick in the 2014 draft, a jolt of optimism quickly spread throughout northeast Ohio. Though the former Heisman trophy winner had a handful of off-the-field issues, the Browns believed that “Johnny Football” could be their franchise quarterback that they have been desperately looking for since 1999.
Manziel’s rookie season didn’t go as many envisioned it would. Sitting behind quarterback Brian Hoyer for a majority of the season, Johnny Manziel didn’t get his first professional start until week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he completed 10 of 18 passes for just 80 yards and two interceptions. After completing three of his eight passes in his next start against the Carolina Panthers, Manziel left the game due to a hamstring injury.
After a lackluster rookie year, to say the least, Manziel seemed to get not only his career on the right track. Shortly after turning down a six figure offer to host a Super Bowl party, the then 22-year-old checked rehab in order to become a better family, friend and teammate, according to ESPN. Manziel was released from rehab in time to participate in Cleveland’s offseason workouts, where he announced he is ditching the ‘money’ sign.
Despite his efforts throughout the offseason, Manziel found a way to get into trouble in his sophomore season with the Browns. Multiple videos surfaced during the Browns’ 2015 campaign of their quarterback under the influence of alcohol, which ultimately resulted in head coach Mike Pettine naming Austin Davis the starter against the Bengals in week 13. Davis failed to prove to Pettine that he deserved to be named the started quarterback for the remainder of the season, so Manziel got the nod to start the final four games of the season.
In that four-game span thus far, Manziel has gone 1-2 and thrown 563 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. In what may be his final attempt to prove to the Cleveland Browns organization he has what it takes to be their franchise quarterback, it was reported that Manziel has concussion-like symptoms and will sit out week 17 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The question remains: is Johnny Manziel’s time in Cleveland come to an end?
It all depends on how the Browns approach the draft, because no free-agent quarterback in their right mind would sign a contract to become the franchise quarterback of the Cleveland Browns. If Ray Farmer -or whoever is calling the shots draft night if Farmer is fired- decides to draft the best player available in the draft, there is a glimmer of hope for Manziel.
As of right now, the Browns will select second overall in the 2016 draft behind only the Tennessee Titans. As many draft analysts predict, the Titans will draft Laremy Tunsil out of Ole Miss in order to protect Marcus Mariota. This leaves the Browns with a decision to draft Joey Bosa out of Ohio State, whom is widely regarded as the best prospect in the draft, or a quarterback such as Cal’s Jared Goff or Memphis’ Paxton Lynch. Though drafting Bosa is the safe pick, the quarterback position will continue to haunt the Browns if they don’t address the problem as soon as possible.
After seeing the top two quarterbacks in this draft class, Goff and Lynch, final collegiate games, it’s clear that Jared Goff is the more NFL ready prospect. Though he may not have the size of Paxton Lynch, Goff’s pocket awareness, footwork and ability to read opposing defenses puts him ahead of Lynch.
With Johnny Manziel proving time and time again that he is a nuisance off the field, it is time for the Browns to move on from the 23-year-old. Though the Browns haven’t seen much of Manziel, his antics are too much to deal with; it would make more sense to draft a quarterback and go from there.