The Cleveland Browns jumped the Kansas City Chiefs into to the 22nd overall pick in order to select quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round of the draft Thursday night, and this begs a significant question:
There are two clear reasons why the Browns felt compelled to leap over the Chiefs from pick 26 in order to secure their 1,000th starting quarterback of the last 20 years. Either A) They were worried about someone else jumping up to get Manziel and wanted to be sure they got their man or B) the Chiefs were going to take Manziel.
Let’s break these scenarios down a bit.
1. Cleveland Felt The Need To Pounce
Johnny Manziel was falling, Kansas City expressed a desire to trade, and Houston, Oakland, and Minnesota all expressed interest in adding a quarterback early in the draft. Maybe the feeling Ray Farmer and Company had was they needed to act sooner than later and Philadelphia had the best deal available.
John Dorsey told the media after the selection of Dee Ford he received somewhere between five to six phone calls for the pick at 23. What if one of those phone calls was from Cleveland? There is a solid chance that was the case, which would suggest KC never had any intention of drafting Manziel.
Cleveland moved up to 22 overall for just a third round pick and flipping number 26 overall for number 22. That’ is a pretty cheap deal to move up four picks. The feeling in Cleveland may have been the deal with Philly is not only affordable, but also ensures we get Manziel. KC may have just had the misfortune of picking one pick too late to trade down.
2. Kansas City Wanted Johnny Manziel
Consider these three tweets:
I mean, I still don’t think he’ll fall that far, and I hate playing this game, but I do think the Chiefs love Johnny Manziel.
— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) May 9, 2014
I’ve written this a few times, but I do think #Chiefs GM John Dorsey likes Manziel. Reid would have to vouch for him to embrace the chaos
— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) May 9, 2014
KC is the next team facing a big decision on Johnny Football….
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2014
There was a legit reason to believe Kansas City would have taken Johnny Football. When the two most plugged in people in the city say they have interest and one of the most plugged in national guys says “facing a big decision” then there is real reason to believe KC wasn’t bluffing or misdirecting people.
Everything about the Chiefs’ situation suggests taking a quarterback would have made sense. Alex Smith may not be here beyond 2014 because of his contract commands, which could put him in the top seven of highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. I like Smith a lot and think the Chiefs can win with him, but I’m not paying him top 10 quarterback money.
Then there is the situation with the Chiefs’ cap next season. Justin Houston and Rodney Hudson are free agents after 2014 along with Smith, and the Chiefs have to start thinking about new contracts for Dontari Poe and Eric Berry in addition to understanding Jamaal Charles and Derrick Johnson will be free agents after 2015. Is re-signing Alex Smith worth losing Poe, Berry, and/or Charles and Johnson?
Kansas City has to consider finding a cheaper option at quarterback and Manziel may have fit the bill for the Chiefs. Whether or not he is better than Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr or whoever can be debated, but we know the Chiefs liked him and we know the Chiefs had a need for him.
This is why I think we were 10 minutes away from draft Johnny Manziel with the 23rd overall pick. Manziel would have meant the Chiefs got to keep core players like Houston, Poe, and Berry, and gave the Chiefs affordable stability at quarterback beyond 2014. They truly would have started to look like Seattle and San Francisco when it came to roster construction.
But we’ll never know because Cleveland felt the need to jump Kansas City.