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Friday, May 9, 2014

Rough Draft

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, ending months of speculation about where the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner would land. While Johnny Football was the biggest single story of last night’s draft, there were a substantial number of stories and subplots to discuss.


The Houston Texans wasted no time making South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, a result that had been anticipated since the 2012 college football season. The 6’5” 270 pound pass rusher was a man among boys and a giant among…well…already pretty big boys! He runs a 4.5 40-yard dash time and can cut as quickly as any pass rusher I have ever seen coming out of college.

Clowney joins a furious Texans front seven, known for outstanding pass rushers. Putting Clowney in the mix with J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Brian Cushing in the Houston defense could make their pass rush more than many teams are capable of handling. The Texans need a quarterback and I expect them to acquire one either later tonight or tomorrow, but the available QB’s had some risk factors while Clowney is a can’t-miss, once every 10 years kind of pass rusher. The only person who can stand between Colwney and a bust in Canton, Ohio one day is Clowney himself.

How could Houston pass on this guy? 2

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the third pick in the draft. With that, the Manziel-watch spiral began.  None of the teams drafting after the Jaguars, other than the Browns, had no pressing need for a quarterback with a number of low risk, high potential players available at other positions of need. When the Browns picked cornerback Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State, a silent hush came across the room. The wait, and the night, would be long for Manziel (to the delight of ESPN and its advertisers).

Cleveland was able to trade up the 22nd pick and select Manziel. The Browns fans in attendance erupted. The city of Cleveland, four years removed for LeBron James “Decision”, had a new sports savior. Reportedly, the Browns had 1,200 season ticket requests within the hour of Manziel being drafted. I expect Manziel to bring energy, hope, and excitement to Cleveland, barring injury, during his rookie year.

Browns fans are hoping that Johnny Football is money! 3

Being Louisiana based, I have to discuss the New Orleans Saints trading up to the #20 pick to acquire Brandin Cooks, the 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner, stands 5’10” at less than 190 pounds with nimble 4.4 speed. Cooks is expected to fill the void in the short passing game left by the departure of Darren Sproles via trade to the Philadelphia Eagles. Expect Drew Brees to quickly get the ball out of his hands and to Cooks in space early and often in the 2014 NFL season.

Cooks lit the stat sheet ablaze every week during the 2013 college football season with 128 receptions, over 1,700 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. With his ability to change direction quickly, expect Cooks to receive a lot of attention from opposing defenses after he busts his first gamebreaker or two as a pro. This will free up receivers Marques Colston and Kenny Stills to operate with less resistance.  

Who Dats hope that "eat my dust" quality translates to the NFL. 4

Also of interest to local readers is the selection of LSU wide receiver and kick returner O’Dell Beckham, Jr. with the 12th overall pick by the New York Giants. Giants quarterback Eli Manning has to be thrilled to have a speedy deep threat to compliment Victor Cruz. Giants WR Hakeem was not that deep threat. But with Beckham on board to stretch the field more, much like Cooks, other Giants ball catchers should be able to operate with greater freedom.

That's part of the reason he went 12th. 5

The second and third rounds of the draft commence tonight. There is still an abundance of quarterback talent on the board and several teams that either need a QB immediately or have a need for long-term depth at the position. With the talent available and the way the NFL and ESPN have packaged and promoted the draft, it is sure to be must-see Friday night television.

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