Come February each year, there are two groups of people in the world of football: those looking forward to the Super Bowl and those looking forward to the draft.
As Raider fans, of course, we've unfortunately gotten used to the latter.
With that in mind, our team of writers has set out to give our thoughts on each of the players various mock drafts have submitted as potential selections for the Raiders. With the No. 5 pick, Oakland has been linked to just about every player and position at the top of the draft, and so this is a series that will run over the next few weeks.
The first assumption is that Oakland keeps the pick. While we're not sure that's the case (or if it's even likely), it's impossible to do a series like this with the uncertainty of where you're picking. Who knows, maybe our last submission will ask the question of who's in favor of trading the pick versus staying put.
The players we've set out to analyze are as follows: Johnny Manziel, Jadaveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Sammy Watkins and Jake Matthews. By the time the series is wrapping up, names like Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack might make their way into the series, but who knows.
So without further ado, what do our writers think about Manziel as Oakland's first-round pick?
Jeff Spiegel (@jeffspiegel) — Don't draft
Do the Raiders need a quarterback? Absolutely. Should they reach for a quarterback that's not worthy of the No. 5 pick though? Not a chance.
I've already broken down my thoughts on drafting a quarterback in more depth here, but the moral of the story is simple: with as many holes as Oakland has, reaching for a QB that is the eighth or ninth best player in the draft just isn't a good strategy. This isn't anything personal against Manziel, it's just that while I have the sneaking suspicion that he'll be a pretty darn good pro — I just think the risk (size, unpredictability, etc.) is one Oakland can't afford to take.
I think Oakland's strategy needs to be building a team up around the quarterback position before throwing someone into the fire without play-makers around him and a defense to support him. If there was a quarterback unanimously agreed upon to be the best player in the draft, I'd be all over him — that's simply not the case this year.
RDreamer (@RaiderDamus) — Draft him
Manziel won the Heisman and was in the running for another despite having one of the crappiest defenses I've ever witnessed. Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder could not find his own ass with an atlas and a team of native trackers and he couldn't put a respectable defense on the field to give Manziel any sort of normal rest periods during the game despite head coach Kevin Sumlin being a superb recruiter for both offensive and defensive players. Thus was Manziel given one of the worst handicaps imaginable. He took these lemons, made lemonade and vodka punch and then screwed the lemonade distributor's daughter.
Johnny Manziel is a rock star. He is supremely confident, is beloved by his teammates and coaches, and is an aspiring and opportunistic entrepeneur. He was insanely successful despite playing in a conference featuring many of college football's best defenses. He beat Alabama nearly by himself and almost beat them twice. Alabama has lost three games in the last two years. While Manziel does have a tendency to throw into traffic, he was for the most part throwing to Mike Evans who will win most of those particular battles simply by virtue of being an incredibly large man. Manziel, though, is not a large man and one shall naturally be concerned about the amount of punishment his body will take in the professional ranks. Robert Griffin III is an excellent recent example of what happens to an uber-athletic Heisman Trophy winner when he takes too many hits to the legs.
That being said, Manziel was forced into some unfortunate positions in college trying to dig his team out of the holes the defense put them in, and he was usually successful at doing so. Just look at the bowl game he had against Duke. Texas A&M was down big in the game and Manziel put the team on his back and they won. That's just what he does. He's not the biggest guy, he doesn't have that cannon arm like Blake Bortles or Zach Mettenberger, but he's a confident guy and he is a winner. He reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson, Brett Favre, Ken Stabler, Fran Tarkenton and Joe Namath. If the Raiders take Manziel, they will have to beef up their offensive line or Manziel will get killed. Also, I suspect the Browns at No. 4 and the Texans at No. 1 also like him a lot so it may take some wrangling to get it done.
Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) — Draft him
Johnny Manziel is easily the most electrifying quarterback in this class. He almost single handedly made Texas A&M into a powerhouse in their first two seasons in the SEC. He is a certified playmaker with intangibles through the roof. Some think his size may not be ideal. He is listed at 6-1 which means he’s more likely 6-0 (college bios ALWAYS add an inch to their player’s height). Then again, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are both about that size and both have won Super Bowls.
People question his character due to his partying ways and that is something NFL general managers and coaches will have to use their own judgment about. He is a college kid, after all. He may leave the wild parties at college where they belong. But considering he isn’t a criminal or a bad teammate and his partying ways never got in the way of his preparation for game day, I don’t see how many – if any – GM’s can pass up the chance to draft a talent like him. I expect the Texans to take him as the top pick.
Marcus Krause — Draft him
Johnny Manziel is an enigma. He has so much upside if his game translates to the NFL, but if it doesn't he will end up being a total bust. It comes down to whether you believe he can do in the NFL what he has been able to do in college — namely face pressure with the instincts of an eagle. I think he can and will be able to transfer his style of play to the NFL and that he will be successful.
With that in mind, if the Raiders choose to go QB and he is available then that is the selection to make. His attitude and persona is the stuff the Raiders of yesteryear were made of, and he has the talent to put it all together. He has the arm strength needed (though not as much as one would like), he has the ability to scramble to either side, and he has the tenacity to be a strong leader of men on the field. Besides all that he also has shown the ability to stand in the pocket, and his name is big enough to sell seats — which helps in getting a new stadium.