Got a little story for ya Ags.
Most of the narratives today will focus on the free fall of Johnny Manziel in last night’s NFL Draft. This is a rather shortsighted viewpoint. Rather, A&M had a banner night and had more players drafted than many conferences (looking at you Big 12 and all you tea sippin haters). We’ll get to that later though.
After the Texans took DE Jadeveon Clowney and the Rams went with OT Greg Robinson, things began to get pretty interesting. With several needs at pass rusher and offensive line, the Jaguars went with a quarterback. Interestingly though, they didn’t pick the quarterback that made the most sense; Manziel. They drafted a QB that looks and plays most similarly to Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville drafted Gabbert 10th in the 2011 NFL Draft, and they just released him this offseason).
The Browns then made a crafty move trading back to the 9th pick with the Buffalo Bills (Bills traded their 9th 1st round pick in the 2014 draft and their 1st round and 4th round pick of the 2015 draft). The Bills selected WR Sammy Watkins then the Raiders picked Khalil Mack. At this point, it seemed crazy that no Aggies had been selected in the top 5 picks. But that’s when GM’s realized the value still available and the Aggies sure didn’t last long.
Jake Matthews was the first to come off the board. Atlanta got a steal with him at #6 and will have a franchise tackle that can play on the left or right side. Matthews is a dominant pass protector who is quick off the snap and is exceptional with his technique. His active hands and great balance have kept pass rushers at bay during his college career. Congrats Matt Ryan. You just got a shiny new Jake Matthews.
Mike Evans was next as the Tampa Bay Bucs couldn’t resist to put him opposite of Vincent Jackson. After being rumored to land there for several weeks now, the Bucs made no changes to their plan. They now will be able to field two elite wide receiver threats after trading Mike Williams this offseason. Mike Evans enters the NFL as one of the top 2 receivers in the draft and an elite jumbo target. His major strengths include his size, catch radius, and run blocking. And after only playing 4 seasons of competitive football in his entire life, the Bucs have to be thrilled with Mike Evans’ upside.
With two Aggies off the board, most figured that it was just a matter of time before Johnny was picked. But then he began to slip. The Browns went with CB Justin Gilber, the Vikings passed on him and chose a LB out of UCLA. As teams continued to pass, the prospect of Johnny becoming a Cowboy seemed more and more plausible. After all, how could Jerry Jones with all of his branding attempts pass up on the most marketable player in the history of the NFL Draft? Saddled by his own ridiculous contract that Tony Romo signed last year, Jerry’s hands were tied. He had to draft an offensive tackle and protect his absurd investment in a 34 year old QB coming off of two back surgeries. Good luck with that Jerry.
Johnny continued to slip as most teams were established at the QB position and needed to address other needs. Finally, Chip Kelly’s phone started buzzing with their 22nd pick. It was the Vikings wanting to make a trade and land their #1 quarterback, Johnny. Manziel had finally fallen to his appropriate draft grade (late first round) and teams were anxious to land the star. As Johnny to Minnesota seemed to be a done deal, the Browns came calling and offered Philadelphia a sweeter deal. The rest is history.
The Browns far and away won the first round of the NFL draft. They filled a huge need with CB Justin Gilbert and they brought in their top quarterback Johnny Manziel at a huge discount. Plus, their ability to trade back with their first pick gives them a 1st and 4th round pick next year. The future could be bright in Cleveland.
The Browns already had the 9th best defense last season. Adding the top cornerback in the NFL Draft should only improve that. Johnny steps into an offense that has a solid offensive line, two great options at receiver, and Ben Tate at running back. It will be interesting to see who the Browns get over the next 3 days of the NFL Draft. But if they are as savvy as they were in the first round, there is plenty to get excited about.
Perhaps most important though, Johnny enters a fan base that is absolutely ecstatic to have him. When Johnny was announced at the beginning of the draft there were plenty of boos that accompanied the cheers. But when Cleveland announced his name, there were only cheers. When Johnny helps Cleveland make that next step in the NFL, he will be loved. When he leads them to their first playoff win since 1994, he will be legend. And if he somehow hoists the Vince Lombardi trophy for Cleveland, he will never be forgotten.
So with that, here are a few final thoughts.
- The Aggies had 3 players drafted in the 1st round. 3! The reason that all the Longhorns hated on Johnny so much last night was due to their insecurities over their middling program.
- 5.2% of all tweets in the US and 9.6% of all tweets in Texas mentioned Manziel between 8pm and midnight last night.
- The NFL Draft posted its highest ratings ever. Austin had the 3rd highest rating of any city, but no Texas player was drafted. Who were the Longhorns watching? #JohnnyEffect
- The SEC had 11 picks with A&M making up 3 of those picks. A&M’s 3 picks were as many as the Pac 12 had and more than the Big 12.
- Johnny Manziel plays best with a chip on his shoulder. There are 10 teams on the Browns 2014 schedule that passed up Johnny. This year’s NFL season just got interesting.