Johnny Manziel is likely to be one of the first players taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders have all been linked to the quarterback, with their picks in the top five.
While “Johnny Football” could be off the board early on Day One of the draft, there’s a chance he’ll be available later in the opening round. In case they have a chance to select him, the Dallas Cowboys have done their due diligence on Manziel, interviewing him at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"You certainly have to look at him in terms of if he were to fall, where he would stack up with the other options," Dallas vice president Stephen Jones told “The Ben and Skin Show” on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. "It's in no way saying that we're going to interview him because if he falls we're going to take him. We just have to know that if something were to happen, obviously he can be a polarizing character, so you have to be prepared."
The Cowboys are set at quarterback with Tony Romo, who has been the team’s starter for the last eight years. They have the No.16 pick on May 8, and it’s highly unlikely that they are targeting Romo’s replacement. However, there are some that would want Dallas to add college football’s most popular player.
Manziel hasn’t been shy about his feelings on playing for the Cowboys. He grew up watching Dallas as a kid from Texas, and would more than welcome the chance to play for “America’s Team.”
"I got a chance to meet Jerry (Jones)," Manziel told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I didn't know him. To get a chance to sit there and talk with him -- the guy is an absolute football fanatic. I really enjoyed meeting him. Until my mouth was sore from talking, and my ear was tired from hearing all of it, we sat there in his suite at Cowboys Stadium and talked for hours. It was awesome to see how he really is, how passionate he is about everything. Me growing up as a Cowboys fan -- I was born at halftime of a Cowboys game -- that would almost be a folktale in the correct direction. We'd have to call that 'Johnny something else.' I don't know what it would be."
Manziel might not be the only one hoping he becomes a Cowboy. Dallas fans have long criticized Romo for his inability to win big games, and some might be happy to see their team star anew, with the quarterback who played his collegiate career in the same state. Romo hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2009, leading the Cowboys to no better than an 8-8 record in each of those four seasons. He has just one postseason victory in his career, failing to ever reach the NFC Championship Game.
Despite Romo’s reputation, Manziel may have been correct in using the word “folktale” to describe the possibility of him joining the Cowboys. Owner Jerry Jones is committed to having Romo as his starting quarterback. Before the 2013 season, Romo signed a six-year deal worth $108 million, including $55 million in guarantees.
Romo has one of the league’s best passer ratings since becoming a starter, and Dallas could get a lot of value for him in a trade. The 33-year-old, however, isn’t going anywhere. This week, the team reworked Romo’s deal, in order to drop his salary cap figure for the upcoming season.
It’s been 25 years since the Cowboys took a quarterback with their first pick. They drafted Troy Aikman in 1989.