Quarterback Johnny Manziel is "exciting and electrifying" to Browns general manager Ray Farmer.
BEREA, Ohio -- Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has excited Aggie fans and was the talk of the Southeastern Conference since taking over the starting job as a red-shirt freshman and riding that momentum all the way to the Heisman Trophy in 2012.
And now, as Manziel prepares for the 2014 NFL Draft, he has "excited and electrified" general managers across the league, including Cleveland Browns GM Ray Farmer, who praised Manziel during his pre-draft press conference.
"He's dynamic," Farmer said. "You look at what he is as a football player, the guy turned a lot of heads. He went to the SEC and was productive, won a lot of games, and there's things definitely to be excited about. The questions that everybody wants to talk about are: 'Is he big enough? Is he going to get hurt? Is his arm strong enough?'
"He's different. He's not the quintessential guy that everybody points to and says, 'This is exactly how you'd draw it up,' and 'This is the packaging that you'd want,' but again, that speaks to who and what Johnny has been his entire life. It's different. It's not how you generally think about playing the position and being effective from the pocket, but the guy has definitely been a very good college football player."
As a freshman, Manziel threw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns against nine interceptions while completing 295 of 434 attempts despite taking 22 sacks.
Then, as a follow-up to his Heisman campaign, Manziel completed 300 passes for 4,114 yards with 37 touchdowns against 13 interceptions and was sacked only 19 times in leading the Aggies to nine wins last fall.
"It's obvious how good of a player he is, how fun he is to watch," Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "I think it does translate to the NFL. If you can make those plays in college, you can do it in the NFL. The one thing about the NFL is there's a lot of tape out there. You've got to be able to do everything. Eventually, what you do very (well), they're going to be able to shut that down and you're going to have to do something else and be able to make plays in this league. Eventually, when they try to contain him, he's going to have to do everything that he didn't always have to do in college.
"The guy can play football. I don't care if you're a big guy or a smaller guy, you take too many hits in the league and it's tough to stay healthy. He's got to take care of himself, especially with the way he plays, but I definitely think he has the size to succeed in the league."
Despite being fun to watch as a freshman, Manziel almost did not have a sophomore season.
During the offseason, Manziel was investigated by the NCAA for being paid to sign autographs, which would have been a violation of its by-laws. Although the NCAA could find no evidence of rules being broken, Manziel was suspended for the first half of the 2013 season opener against Rice for "a violation of the spirit" of the rules.
"I don't think I have any reservations about who Johnny is," Farmer said. "We had a lot of conversations, spent a lot of time with him. He's a good, young man. The interesting part about Johnny is that much like a lot of us, you don't get a handbook on how to operate in certain instances.
"When you go from being a kid in Tyler, Texas, to being 'Johnny Football' and winning a Heisman Trophy really quickly, there's no manual to tell you how to handle the media swarm, how to handle the paparazzi, how to handle people coming up to you at dinners. He would tell you, very candidly, it's not how he would've written it up now that he's getting toward the end of his college career, but you live and you learn. That being said, I do think there's good things ahead for him. It's just a matter of how he handles that when he gets to his new destination."