Browns offer thoughts on 'Johnny Football'

May, 2, 2014
May 2
12:00
PM ET
ESPN’s Todd McShay was talking about the quarterbacks in the draft last week when he said he’s never heard as many varying opinions about players as he has this year.

Everyone he talks to in the NFL, it seems, has a different way to look at them, and a different feeling on them.

So it is especially with Johnny Manziel, the most polarizing and potentially exciting player in the draft, a player coach Mike Pettine said can be “galvanizing” for a team.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY SportsWill Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel's improvising ways make him an NFL success? Opinions vary.
Pettine also said he would defer to his experts on picking a quarterback -- which would be offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains.

“I can say what a good one looks like, but there are times where I don’t know if I can say why he’s good,” Pettine said.

He then declined to discuss specifics about Manziel, saying he’d simply prefer not to.

Shanahan said he has his players in order, that he doesn’t like to sit on the fence. He’s expressed his opinion, and said there are several quarterbacks who can play.

He even offered his thoughts about the feeling that Manziel’s free-wheeling style might not translate to the NFL.

“If you can make those plays in college, you can do it in the NFL,” Shanahan said. “The one thing about the NFL is there’s a lot of tape out there. You have to be able to do everything. Eventually what you do very good, they’re going to eventually shut that down and you’re going to have to do something else.

“He’s going to be able to make plays in this league, and eventually when you try to contain him he’s going to have to do things he didn’t always have to do in college.”

Barkevious Mingo played against Manziel in college, sacked him once.

“It was hard to get your hands on him,” Mingo said. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to bring that same thing, if a coach allows him to, wherever he goes. He’s tricky whatever he does. You really have to prepare for him.”

“I think Nick Saban said it best,” linebacker Quentin Groves said. “He’s the hardest guy to prepare for.”

The question is whether Manziel can do the same scrambling and freelancing in the pros, where the guys chasing the quarterback are bigger, stronger and faster.

“Some of the stuff maybe not, but you can’t take away what he does well,” Mingo said. “And that’s he makes people miss. At the end of the day quarterbacks get paid to stay on their feet. If he can do it better by running outside the pocket, then people upstairs are going to be happy.”

“You have to realize this,” Groves said. “It takes defensive coordinators a year to catch up with what’s new."

There is also the factor of “Johnny Football” joining a team. Whoever drafts Manziel accepts the circus with him that will include national media attention and celebrity glitz. Not many college quarterbacks have ex-Presidents at their workouts.

Groves said he believes the Browns can handle it because they’re a mature team, but he also hedged when asked if the team was ready for all that Manziel brings, including the hype.

“If you want to sell tickets it would be good for that,” he said. “If you’re trying to sell jerseys, it would be good for that. The business side. But ... football. I’m not sure. I can’t comment on that.”

As McShay said, the comments are all over the board.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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