SNQB: Why the Patriots Have to Draft Johnny Manziel
Everyone calls him Johnny Football, but some call him Tom Brady’s perfect replacement. No? Maybe it’s just me, but it does make a lot of sense. Right now the Patriots have a really special thing going with dynamic duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But, all good things do come to an end eventually. Brady will turn thirty-seven this summer, and while that’s not quite yet Brett Favre status, that’s getting pretty old by NFL standards. Let’s face it, it’s not pretty watching athletes age past their ability to keep up. (Well, okay, watching Ed Reed and Ray Lewis have to wear oxygen masks after one defensive series against Tom Brady’s no-huddle offense never got old–no pun intended–but that’s the exception.) Anyway, Brady may have a couple of good years left, but the bottom line is that the Patriot’s need to start preparing for the future, a potentially bleak Tom Brady-less one.
So back to Johnny Manziel. I don’t need to get into all the hype surrounding him since he took over as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback in 2012, but there’s no doubt that this guy is one of the most exciting quarterback prospects ever. The 2014 draft class has a few interesting gun-slingers, and there have been a lot of upward and downward trends between the top four or five. Those being Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, and even ol’ AJ McCarron is making waves right now, and for once not just because of his fiancé Katherine Webb. Now the skill sets for these guys differ, making it debatable which one is the top prospect. Bridgewater has elite accuracy, Bortles has elite pocket presence, and McCarron has “elite” game management …and Katherine Webb. Manziel has none of these things, but he has something better and I’m not talking about his Hiesman Trophy. Johnny Manziel has it. That’s right, it, the quarterback trait that isn’t represented by any statistic, but just something that certain guys have. Trust me, you know it when you see it, and players either have it or they don’t. It is what allows quarterbacks like Russel Wilson and Andrew Luck to turn broken plays into forty-yard touchdowns. It is why Tom Brady strikes fear in his opponents’ hearts when he has the ball on his own twenty, down by four points with two minutes left. It is the reason that Manziel is considered a top prospect at all. There is something about him that gets things done, makes plays happen, and most importantly, wins. His 21-5 career win/loss record may not make him the winningest college player, but he did play for Texas A&M not Alabama, and like I said, it isn’t about stats.
Now I’ve identified a problem: Tom Brady’s impending retirement. And I believe that I’ve also identified the solution: JFF. The Patriot’s don’t have any glaring needs to fill for 2014, and most mock drafts have them selecting a Defensive Tackle with their first round pick at twenty-six. True enough, the Patriots could improve their run-stuffing defensive line, but luckily for them defensive tackle (and end) is a deep position talent-wise in this draft. They could easily find a starter in the second or even third round. Also luckily, there are a number of teams with earlier picks than the Patriots such as Miami and Detroit who are looking to trade down. The Lions’ tenth pick is worth 1300 points, about twice that of the Patriots’ twenty-sixth, so the Patriots would only have to add in one of their TWO second round picks to make the offer equal. If Manziel makes it past the quarterback-thirsty teams with the first four picks, the Patriots could easily swoop down to pick number ten (via Detroit) and make a move on Manziel.
So the last question, is this really necessary? Yes, it really is. A team always needs a plan B. The Miami Dolphins are a prime example of what happens when you don’t plan ahead. Once they lost Chad Pennington after an impromptu playoff run in 2008, they were stuck in mediocrity while Chad Henne threw nothing but check-downs for four years. What –or rather who, is the Patriots’ plan B right now… Ryan Mallet? When Mallet is healthy, sure, he’s not so bad, but is he the future of this franchise? No way. As I said before, the Patriots need to start preparing for the future, and the future is waiting to be claimed. I can’t think of a better mentor for Manziel (who some claim to have poor work ethic) than Brady, the ultimate focus-and-get-your-f*******-head-in-the-game type of competitor. So what, Manziel likes to have a little fun, who can blame him? The Patriots are a super fun team to play for, just ask Brandon Spikes…
I’ll leave it at this. The Patriots may never have another quarterback as winning (I mean that literally, not like Charlie Sheen) as Tom Brady, but they have an opportunity here to get someone who brings the same level of excitement and hope as Brady does when he steps onto the field on Sunday afternoons. If you need a sample of the exciting atmosphere that surrounds Manziel, just look to a video of his pro day workout where he’s making it rain on Mike Evans while George and Barbara Bush look on from the audience and Drake’s “Worst Behavior” plays on a loudspeaker. So let me ask you, Patriot fans: When Brady’s frightening celebratory shouts of “let’s go” are no more, which would you rather see; Ryan Mallet doing an awkward Joe Flacco-esque celebration (not that he would ever have reason to celebrate), or Johnny Football doing money fingers? Of course, it’s up to Bill Belichick, who at the moment is the de facto general manager as well as the head coach. But we all know that sneaky Bill always has a trick up his sleeve… and a camera on his opponents’ sideline during games.
above photo from FOX Sports