KU coach Charlie Weis talks Johnny Football
The story of the night concerning Round 1 of the NFL Draft on Thursday was not No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, the rapid rise of a surprise prospect or the New York Jets fans booing the daylights out of their team's pick.
Instead, it was the saga surrounding polarizing Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, as it probably would have been no matter where he was selected.
Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and one of the most impressive and exciting quarterbacks to hit college football in years, sat in the green room for 2 hours and 43 minutes while waiting for his name to be called, which it finally was when Cleveland traded up to get him after passing on him at No. 4 (via trade) and No. 8 when the Browns chose Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert instead.
I thought Johnny Football handled himself very well throughout the night. He held it together while waiting, was classy during the brief, on-stage interview that followed the pick and seemed at peace with how the whole thing played out.
The guy's got a ton of talent. And he's a passionate dude. Now he'll have a little bigger chip on his shoulder than ever before and that should be interesting to watch. In Cleveland, no less.
At the end of the night, Manziel was one of three quarterbacks taken in the first round. Central Florida's Blake Bortles went No. 3 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater was the final pick of the first round (No. 32) when Minnesota traded up to get him.
Earlier Thursday, KU football coach Charlie Weis was one of the featured guests on 610 sports radio's "The Drive" and Weis, a 16-year veteran of NFL sidelines, was asked a ton about the draft in general as well as this year's crop of quarterbacks.
“There's an unusually large, eclectic group of quarterbacks this year,” Weis said. “And it'll be interesting to see where they all fall. I think it's gonna be what flavor ice cream you like, because I think they all bring something different to the table. What are you looking for? That's what it's gonna come down to.”
That thought, though relevant to all of them, came in a conversation about Manziel, about whom Weis had a lot to say prior to the first round getting under way.
“There's some people that'll like Manziel the most and others that wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole,” Weis said.
So where would Weis fall in that wide range of the love-him-or-hate-him game?
“I would have a tough time coaching him, personally,” Weis said. “He's an exceptional talent. He's either gonna be a Brett Favre star in the league or a loose cannon. I don't know enough about him personally. I haven't watched him play enough games. But I have watched him play really well in big games.”
The reason Weis would be concerned about coaching him has nothing to do with Manziel's skill set.
“Personality wise,” Weis said when asked what issues he might have. “I'm used to, 'We do things a certain way,' and he looks to be quite the free spirit. In my career, I haven't been around that free spirit mentality at quarterback. You have 'em at receiver, you have 'em at DB but there aren't too many of them at quarterback. There's some organizations that really need to take Johnny Manziel. He's a lightning rod and he could very quickly become a face of a franchise. And if he turns 'em into a winner, you hit a grand slam, you don't just hit a home run.”
Cleveland, which continually has struck out in its attempt to find a franchise quarterback likely was one of those teams to which Weis was referring and it should be very interesting to see how it all plays out when Johnny Football invades Cleveland.
Despite his comments about coaching him, which obviously will never matter, Weis said he was pulling for Manziel.
“I hope the kid's successful,” he said. “He was a great college player. That's why all the gurus who have spent a lot more time than me analyzing these guys are hot and cold on him because they're not really sure how this is gonna pan out.... You can't win without a quarterback. That is the bottom line. You look at every team in the league, if they don't have a quarterback they really don't have a chance.”