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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel

Johnny's talk of the NFL draft

Last Modified: Thursday, May 08, 2014 2:23 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Johnny Manziel is the face of today’s draft.

He hijacked the event long ago, sometime last summer to be exact.

He did it by gallivanting around after winning the Heisman Trophy.

Manziel became the best-known college football player since Tim Tebow, and he did it after just one season.

He may not be the best player about to be selected, but Manziel sure is the most talked about.

Can he play or how well will he play is often followed by how big of a distraction he might become, or already is.

Manziel could be the first name called by the Houston Texans, but that seems more and more unlikely with each passing hour.

He could be the third quarterback picked. Some draft experts don’t even think he is worthy of the first round.

Feelings about Manziel are all over the board.

One thing is for sure: all eyes will be on Johnny Football today in the NFL Green Room.

Like him or not, believe he can play or not, worry about him off the field or not, Manziel is talked about.

He is much more than a quarterback, he is box office.

But handing the keys over to your franchise to a guy who likes to drive fast and loose is hard to do.

What makes it even tougher for teams to pass on Johnny Football, beside the instant interest and financial gain, is that the NFL has become such a quarterback league.

It is by far the most important position in the game, but not all teams that win championships are built around the game’s best gunslingers.

Baltimore won with Joe Flacco. Seattle won with Russell Wilson.

It sure is nice to have one, but a leader is more important.

That’s where the real question about Manziel’s worth comes into play.

It is unclear what kind of a leader Johnny Football really is.

He looks like one on the field, but a real leader doesn’t get tossed out of the Manning passing camp.

So which Johnny Manziel you get will determine the success of picking him.

This does have a Tebow feel to it.

Tebow went in the first round to Denver, even led the Broncos to a division title and playoff victory. But he never became the type of quarterback NFL folks liked.

He never got a chance with the Jets and we all saw what kind of a mess that was. Even Jacksonville, a franchise begging for anybody to pay attention — and in Tebow’s backyard — elected to not even give him a tryout.

If ever there was an easy marketing gig it was Tebow to the Jaguars. Yet Jacksonville officials didn’t want the sideshow that comes with Tebow.

Now he’s doing television.

Manziel brings even more baggage with him. He may even bring more cameras.

Manziel is a TMZ video waiting to happen. That’s not the type of publicity most team owners are looking for with their multi-million dollar investment.

Maybe the guy in Dallas, but that’s about it.

The Texans seem like they would like to pick anybody before Johnny Football, even if he is a Texas kid.

Picking a quarterback is never easy. Often they are drafted too high out of need and become a bust.

JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf are just two examples.

It is a list no team wants to be a part of, even when picking Manziel.

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at

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