This time of year is filled with propaganda. Teams spend their early spring days dissecting and analyzing a boatload of college prospects – travelling to various campuses to see some and hosting others at their facilities. Each of these visits tends to spark discussion and fans and media begin the process of figuring out which of the meetings are indications of true interest and which are little more than fact-finding missions.
The teams love this uncertainty, of course, because it further clouds the reality of predicting their course when the time for the actual picks arrives in May.
That brings us to the much-celebrated visit from Johnny Manziel earlier this week in Foxborough. The former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback known as Johnny Football is widely considered to top-10 pick, but some mock drafts have his positioning scattered all over the first round and some have even speculated he could drop out of Day 1 altogether.
When the Patriots decided to host Manziel as well as Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater a week after visiting with Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, the possibility of selecting a quarterback early in the draft received significant traction around New England. All three could easily be gone by the time the draft is an hour or two old on May 8, but given the uncertainty there's always the chance that one of the passers could be available at No. 29.
While many have offered theories as to why Bill Belichick would spend two of his 30 pre-draft visits on Manziel and Bridgewater, the fact is no one other than the coach knows for sure why he hosted the quarterbacks.
But it got us thinking: what if Belichick is truly contemplating taking one in the first round? The next logical step leads us to this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question: If Johnny Manziel is available at No. 29, would you take him?
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
Few players have entered the draft with as polarizing a reputation as Johnny Manziel. He's a rare combination of athletic playmaker, riverboat gambler and most of all a winner. He's also not immune to controversy as his off-field decisions haven't always been the best and they've led to some discipline during his college career at Texas A&M.
But at some point the Patriots are going to need to find a replacement for Tom Brady. While I don't necessarily believe they need to do it in the draft, specifically this year's draft, I do believe that Manziel's package of skills would be too good to pass up if he fell to 29.
Manziel's skill set is perfect for today's changing NFL game with athletic passers who can throw on the run and make plays with their legs now considered necessities rather than wild and unpredictable turnovers and injuries waiting to happen. He would also enter an ideal situation sitting behind Brady for a year or two, and who better to learn from than a guy with three Super Bowl rings?
It's probably a far-fetched notion and Manziel will likely be long gone, but if a talent of that caliber falls into their lap, Bill Belichick and the Patriots must strongly consider making the move.
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Manziel is an intriguing athlete and playmaker. He's also a scary person to hand the reins of your franchise over to. But that's an issue that teams would face with a Johnny Football decision near the top the draft, not one the Patriots would be as worried about in our premise here.
My issue for the Patriots at 29 would be the idea of preparing for the post-Brady future rather than trying to win the in Brady-driven present. The way I see things the Patriots need to add starting caliber players, at the very least, at tight end and safety. There is also the need for another pass rusher and maybe some depth at defensive line, running back and linebacker.
Adding Manziel is an investment that wouldn't pay off for years. While I think there is some business and football sense in trying to prepare for life after Brady, that can't come at the cost of the present. Taking a quarterback in the first round this May would be doing a disservice to Brady, the current team and the fans. Taking a quarterback to develop later in the draft is smart business. Wasting a first-round pick at the position when you could be adding weapons to compete for a Super Bowl is not. Knowing the difference is important. --AH
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.