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Touching All the Bases

How Did Johnny Manziel Not End Up A Cowboy, and 11 Plots/Afterthoughts from the NFL Draft


On the clock with a few thoughts from Round 1 that don't involve the Patriots' intriguing selection of Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley ...

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1. Cannot wait to find out how the Cowboys scouts and other sane personnel subdued Jerry Jones long enough to prevent him from drafting Johnny Manziel. Taser? Old-school "Dallas" reruns? Surprise team-building trip to the Bunny Ranch? The funny part is, for all of their other needs, the Cowboys could easily have justified choosing Manziel. Tony Romo is 34, has a bad back, and is, you know, Tony Romo. Manziel would have been a viable choice as his successor in a couple years. Instead, they did the more practical thing and took an offensive tackle who might help keep Romo upright for a few more years. Go figure.

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2 I like the Manziel pick for the Browns. That's a team with more talent than their 4-12 record and minus-98 point differential last year might suggest. Picking a quarterback at No. 22 might not have worked in the past -- it's where they took fellow green-room refugee Brady Quinn in 2007 and Brandon Weeden (also younger than Bortles) two years ago. He's a fascinating, high-risk, high-reward prospect, and they were wise to take the shot.

3. I know there's a lot of history suggesting we should be wary of wide receivers chosen high in the first round, at least in terms of expecting them to contribute immediately. But I love the Bills' move to trade up for Sammy Watkins. He's as electrifying after the catch as any college receiver I've seen since ... well, since Tavon Austin last year, but forget I said that, it doesn't help my point. We should probably prepare for him to be a nuisance to the Patriots for years to come.

ebronericfinn59.JPG4. North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron would be on the short list of player in this draft who I'd want on the Patriots if they could have anyone. Probably would rate him just below Clowney, Watkins, and maybe Khalil Mack. I'm not sure Matthew Stafford deserves or knows what to do with all the weapons the Lions give him. He's like a Bills-era Drew Bledsoe with an extra chin at this point.

5. "For many years Mel was my greatest motivation because he said I was too small." And with that comment, which left Mel Kiper to smile while his eyes revealed his abject terror, Ray Lewis finally justified his gig as an ESPN analyst.

6. ESPN loves nothing better than when a big name is suddenly stuck in green room purgatory. Manziel's slide was a delicious subplot, and they'll milk it for years if he turns out to be any good. How many times did we see the Aaron Rodgers draft footage Thursday night? Seemed like once every other commercial break.

7. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is allegedly 22 years old. Claims to have been born on December 16, 1991. Not buying any of it. He's 25, minimum, and it wouldn't shock me if it's discovered he played against Chris Weinke back in the day.

8. Calvin Pryor is by all accounts a fine pick for the Jets at No. 18. But it's one more piece of evidence that Rex Ryan would field an entire defense of hard-hitting safeties if he could figure out a way.

9. I'll admit it: When I read Tom Curran's fun hypothetical on what it might take for the Patriots to trade up and draft Jadeveon Clowney, against my better judgment and all common sense, I started hoping it might happen. Especially after the Ryan Mallett-to-the-Texans rumors popped up later in the day. If you can't dream big on draft day, what's the point?

10. Next year, Warren Buffett should offer a million bucks to any football writer who gets the first 10 picks of the first round correct. Mock drafts are enjoyable, and they do a lot to help casual fans learn about the next class of NFL rookies. But once again the actual draft made a mockery of the imaginary drafts. There are too many half-truths and outright lies told by general managers and agents who have nothing to gain by sharing honest information to allow for accurate projecting.

11. Seriously, though, I bet Jerry Jones woke up this morning in his coyote-fur pajamas in his miniature AT&T Stadium waterbed and howled about passing on Manziel. The Cowboys owner did offer an explanation. I'm going to pass on that excuse like Dallas passed on Manziel and wait for the real story.