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Would The St. Louis Rams Really Draft Johnny Football?


You have to feel sorry for draftniks, professionals and amateurs alike. The postponement of the NFL’s annual meat market by a fortnight has meant that many commentators have already used up their theories and predictions and are now being forced to come up with increasingly unlikely forecasts in order to fill up their column inches. By this time, these writers would be evaluating the draft and discussing its impact on each team; instead, they are now growing weary and starved of ideas. May 8th cannot come fast enough (a sentiment none with which none of us could disagree).

The best evidence of this fatigue is the dubiousness of some of their latest prophecies. These tend to reflect an eagerness to be the first to come up with an implausible scenario which, despite the low probability, could become reality. Some of these have concerned the St Louis Rams’ hypothetical actions in the first round of the draft, where they own the second and thirteenth picks. Early sensible predictions saw Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson go to the blue-and-gold in recognition of the team’s needs in the offensive line. Other mock drafts saw the Rams pick wide receivers Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans. Less popular, less likely, but, nonetheless, quite justified guesses concerned defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or linebacker Khalil Mack. Some writers were also playful with the prospect of trades taking place, with the Rams moving down from number two, or even up from number thirteen, thereby adjusting their predictions accordingly. All of these moves have been aptly summarized. The two-week delay has made them dull.

One of the more surprising names that has been added to the list is that of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. This has been given greater credibility by writer Charles Davis’ forecast that the Rams could take Manziel with the thirteen pick, a prospect which analyst Daniel Jeremiah calls “a real possibility”. Adding further fuel to the fire is the fact that the Rams themselves have admitted to work out a number of quarterbacks, including Johnny Football. This has naturally excited the Rams online fan community, some of whom support the move, and others who do not. I, for one, have my doubts about this…not just as a good move for the Rams, but even whether it is a convincing proposition in the first place.

The Heisman Trophy winner is undoubtedly an exciting prospect and is considered one of the strongest talents in this year’s quarterback class. His numbers and folk-hero status in college football are a testament to his abilities. However, some have raised concerns about the possibility of these talents transferring successfully to the faster professional game. These have centered around off-the-field distractions, limited anticipation, and a tendency to improvise dangerously. These are significant concerns for teams who might be hoping to avoid the risk of Manziel following the footsteps of a similar cult figure from recent college football history: Tim Tebow. While a number of analysts see Manziel being drafted early by a quarterback-hungry team – including even by Houston as the first overall pick – some even see him slip out of the first round entirely. There is considerable uncertainty here, raising doubts as to whether a team with specific needs would risk delaying a rebuilding plan by taking a punt on a new signal-caller.

But here, perhaps, is the main rub: the Rams already have a starting quarterback. Yes, he might not be an elite quarterback, or even, at times, a good one. But he is not a bad one either, and the Rams have already publically committed themselves to Sam Bradford as next year’s starter, as I feel they should do. Drafting Manziel – or any high-profile quarterback for that matter – would effectively bring an end to the Sam Bradford experiment (“Hooray!”, some might say”) as I do not feel that Number Eight would respond positively to such a public display of a lack of confidence in him. Some argue that Bradford could then become a valuable bargaining chip, but this would be a risky move for a franchise that cannot afford one. Rams fans know what they have in Sam and of what he is capable; as regards Manziel, we know next to nothing.

The Manziel-to-St Louis scenario is, therefore, likely to be a result of a combination of smokescreening by the Rams (perhaps in an attempt to make the second pick more valuable to potential trade partners) and over-thinking by bored and antsy experts. Sure, the Rams will probably draft a quarterback, but this is likely to be a mid-round prospect who could serve as a viable backup and could even turn out to be a starter (Russell Wilson, anyone?). But they are unlikely to mortgage the franchise’s future on a whim. Instead, they should, perhaps for one final year, build around the quarterback they already have and hope for the best.

Now watch the Rams draft Manziel…

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Tags: Draft Johnny Manziel

  • Rick Talley

    S M O K E S C R E E N!!!!!!!!!!

  • cesarnoel

    There are several reason why the Rams WILL NOT draft Johnny Manziel.

    1.) Offensive line and secondary is a priority specially when these areas lack talent.
    2.) Johnny Manziel doesn’t fit in Jeff Fisher’s style of play which is running the football and do play-action passes.
    3.) Sam Bradford is pretty much the starter in 2014 and 2015 and having Johnny Manziel would spark a quarterback controversy which they they don’t need at this point of their progress.
    4.) Johnny Football is not a guarantee that he would succeed in the next level in his 1st season as a starter.

  • Beer O’Clock

    Bradford fan here. But, I think people are getting unnecessarily bent out of shape on this. There are some good reasons for drafting him, but only if he falls to a mid to late 1st rounder:
    1) The Rams need a QB to groom. They’ve made this obvious–it’s just a matter of whom. Manziel does have talent: he has the arm, mobility and the ability to stretch a play out that is coveted in the NFL. He has flaws in his game, as well, and will need time to work these out.
    2) He’s young. How many Heisman winning QBs enter the NFL at 21? He’s two years younger than Murray, Carr and McCarron. So, even if you sit Manziel on the bench for two years, he would be the equivalent age as Murray, Carr and McCarron is now, only Manziel now has two extra years of maturity and knowledge of the NFL game. Make it VERY CLEAR to Bradford, Manziel, the team and the fans that Manziel is being groomed and Bradford is the unquestioned and undeniable starter for, at the very least, the next two years. This will put an early and immediate end to any QB controversy.
    3) ……unless Bradford gets hurt or plays poorly–which any sane person can agree there a reasonable risk of this. Should either happen, Rams’ fans will be happy to have a QB of Manziel’s talent and bravado coming off the bench. The Rams may not win as many games with a young Manziel vs. Bradford, but I sure as hell would want to watch what happens. I guarantee that he would win more games than Kellen Clemens. If Manziel falls flat on his face, there’s always Shaun Hill.
    4) Bradford is reaching his free agency year. A groomed Manziel gives the Rams options should Bradford test the market. By next spring, he will know the Rams system, understand the NFL game much better and have a year to work out his pocket issues. Strange, that Rams fans would be willing to gamble with a #2 pick for Clowney because of Chris Long’s contract, but not willing to consider Manziel (considering Bradford’s contract) with a mid-to-late first rounder. It begs the question: which hurt the Rams more last year, the play of their DE’s or the play of their QBs?

    The best argument against Manziel is that the Rams use up a mid-to-late 1st rounder that is bettered served addressing other needs. Personally, it’s only this argument that makes me believe the Rams shouldn’t do it. But, if the Rams get Manziel at good value, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad strategy.

  • Gary Stewart

    IMO if the rams trade down gathering extra picks AND he falls to #13, then and only then would i consider this move. (i am not the g.m.) but you get my drift and if they have an offer from another team to trade for bradford maybe then it makes sense. otherewise i prefer o line olb and secondary and actually if they feel barrett jones can get it done waiting and taking o line in the 2nd day makes sense. again IMO

  • drewspinoso

    We draft Manziel when you can have Tebow. They are the same Canadian League qb’s trying to make it big!