Quarterback Johnny Manziel brings an "It Factor" to Cleveland, according to Browns coach Mike Pettine.
BEREA, Ohio -- There was just something about Johnny Manziel that the Cleveland Browns could not pass up on in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft Thursday night.
In fact, when the opportunity presented itself, the Browns traded up from No. 26 to No. 22 in order to secure Manziel by making their "play at what we thought was the right time," according to general manager Ray Farmer.
"We definitely liked his ability to perform and make plays," Farmer said. "He's passionate. He was relentless. He was fearless. He was competitive, and we added a guy to our roster we thought could help us win.
"The reaction in the room was positive. We knew we were going to bring him to Cleveland at some point, given the opportunity. The opportunity presented itself and we took that chance."
First-year Browns coach Mike Pettine said the team looked past all of the hype that Manziel, the first-ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, brings with him a "non-factor" when evaluating the former Texas A&M standout.
"When he gets inside the building, and we talked about it at length when we visited with him, what accompanies him isn't really him," Pettine said. "He's a competitor. He's a great teammate. He loves to get in. He's passionate about football. I don't think that comes into the building. We looked at it as an opportunity to add a tremendous competitor to this roster, and what follows him, for us, was not a big factor in the decision.
"He fits the 'Play like a Brown' mentality. He's tough. He's passionate, and he's a gym rat. He loves football. He can process information very quickly. He can improvise, make plays with his feet, and I think that's important in today's game.
"I thought his (it factor) was at an extreme level. It's to the point where it really created Johnny Football, and the fact that he is all those things to an amazing degree, he's ultra-competitive. He's ultra-passionate. He's a guy that just finds a way."
After learning "how much passion and how much football acumen" Manziel has, Pettine believes the newest Browns quarterback will be "well received" within the locker room.
"I think he'll be received well because I think they're going to see a guy that's going to come in and go to work and compete right out of the gate and immerse himself in wanting to learn it," Pettine said.
"He's not walking into the building with an entourage. He's walking in as a teammate, and when you've talked to the people at Texas A&M and talked to the people that are around them before, once he's inside the locker room, he's one of the most well-liked guys on the team."
Farmer, who was appointed to the position of general manager back in February, started his evaluation of Manziel long ago. Part of that evaluation process came in person, as Farmer attended the Texas A&M-Alabama game last September to see how Manziel handled the ups and downs that come with playing quarterback at a high level.
"He's not going to put his head down and wince about what happened," Farmer said. "Guys that have short-term memories and keep going, those are the kind of guys that we like. It's like having a shooter's mentality.
"When you miss one or you miss two, it doesn't stop you from coming back and knocking down the next one or knocking down two, three, four or five in a row. He's demonstrated those wares, and like all players, he has to demonstrate those in the National Football League."
While the Browns drafted Manziel in the first round, Pettine has repeatedly stated, and reiterated it again Thursday night, there will be a competition for the starting quarterback job with the Browns.
"Whether he was taken at four or going at 22, it'll be a competition, and I meant that when I said it," Pettine said. "I don't think you can hand jobs to people when they come in. It's a situation where, despite what's around him and what's following him, and there will be that pressure to play him, we're in the business of evaluating who will be the best quarterback for the Cleveland Browns to win football games, and that's who's going to play. Whether that's Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel."
GILBERT BRINGS 'EXCEPTIONAL' SKILLS
Before the Browns selected Manziel, they drafted former Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert with the No. 8 pick, and in doing so, they got "an exceptional athlete," according to Pettine.
"He has elite man cover skills, and the shortcomings that we feel were there are easily corrected through coaching," Pettine said. "We were thrilled to be able to turn the card in.
"In our system, we are not a lot of what people would phrase, 'Hard corner,' where the corner is the primary in run support when the ball is going around the perimeter that the corner is the first line of defense. That's very rare in our system.
"Our premium, when we list the attributes and we say, 'Here's what we're looking for in a corner,' the press-man coverage ability, the ability to eliminate a wide receiver and allow us to play 10 against 10, or do that with two guys and play nine against nine, that is a much higher premium than to be more of an outside linebacker type. He was clearly our top corner just because he fits our scheme."
Although the Browns were lauded by fans who were excited by the choice of Manziel, Pettine could care less about "winning the offseason." To him, and the organization, the focus is all about winning games in the fall.
"The shot in the arm that I'd rather give this organization is in the fall," Pettine said. "We've talked about it before that talk is cheap. Hype is exactly that. We're thrilled that the city of Cleveland is abuzz about football, but we want that feeling to persist, and we want it to go deep into the fall."