An anonymous Cleveland Browns player said the franchise should have selected Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater instead of Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft, according to a report by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman. Moreover, several team members reportedly doubt Manziel will ever be ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Critics derided Manziel’s work ethic several times before and during his rookie season in Cleveland last year, but Browns sources said many on the team have questions about Manziel’s talent level, according to Freeman. One Browns player said Manziel had accuracy issues and that several teammates felt the media and public had a skewed perspective of his on-field ability.
By the end of the season, “several Browns players” were “exasperated” with Manziel’s struggles, Freeman wrote. “Think about where we’d be now if we had drafted Teddy Bridgewater,” an unnamed Browns player said he told a teammate during Cleveland’s 7-9 season, according to Freeman.
Freeman’s story came weeks after a damning report by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Pat McManamon which documented Manziel’s struggles throughout the 2014 season. Team sources said Manziel failed to adequately prepare for his role as the team’s quarterback and was not ready when called on to start near the end of the season. Manziel’s off-field antics and partying also rankled some teammates, with one referring to his rookie season as a “100 percent joke.”
The Browns took Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, well ahead of Bridgewater, who went at 32nd overall to the Vikings. Manziel struggled mightily in limited action, completing just 18-of-35 passes for 175 yards in five games before he suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in Week 16.
Manziel also experienced trouble off the field and voluntary entered rehab earlier this month for unspecified reasons. "Johnny knows there are areas in which he needs to improve in order to be a better family member, friend and teammate, and he thought the offseason was the right time to take this step," adviser Brad Beckworth said, according to ESPN.
Meanwhile, Bridgewater excelled as a rookie for the Vikings, completing 259-of-402 passes for 2,919 yards and 14 touchdowns. He set 91 franchise records, recorded the third-highest completion percentage of any rookie quarterback in NFL history and won a fan vote to earn 2014 Pepsi Rookie of the Year honors, according to Vikings.com.