Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Ron, the lead editor of FantasyFootballOverdose.Com – great source of football news and rumors. You can follow @NFLRankings via Twitter or via Google+ for more updates.
The Cleveland Browns drafted former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. They are a franchise that has had very few bright spots in its history and Manziel was seen as an infusion of talent, the face and future of the franchise and a ticket-selling master. Manziel put up incredible numbers at Texas A&M, running and throwing all over SEC defenses and taking every risk humanly possible. The highlight reel on the field was also full of red flags off the field, from his excessive partying to his run-ins with the NCAA. From the moment the Browns drafted Manziel, all the attention was on him. Every question was about Johnny and most not even to do with football but instead his weekend partying habits in Las Vegas. Manziel will eventually become the Browns starter, but veteran backup Brian Hoyer is the best fit for the Browns in 2014, giving them a mature, hard-working presence behind center that Manziel can learn from.
Hoyer has taken a difficult road to the NFL. Following a successful career at MichiganState, he went undrafted but was signed by the New England Patriots. For three seasons, he settled in as Tom Brady’s backup in New England. Following his release in 2012, Hoyer played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals and eventually landed with the Browns in 2013. Hoyer came on for an injured Brandon Weeden in Week 2 and was named the starter for the next two games where he picked up two victories and threw for five touchdowns. In Week 5, Hoyer’s dream season came to an end though as he went down with a torn ACL.
Hoyer is not your prototypical quarterback. He doesn’t possess a great arm or have any “wow” qualities. He was not a first round pick and was pegged as a career backup. However, he is a hard worker, spending countless hours watching game film and putting in the time during practice to prepare himself for starting. All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas even said “he’s a lot like Tom Brady.” That’s high praise for a quarterback.
Manziel is an excellent talent. You do not win the Heisman Trophy without being an elite player. He is a dual threat at quarterback, but is not mature enough to be the face of the Browns franchise just yet. To be the face of the franchise, you have to be a leader. You cannot be partying every weekend. That act will not last among his teammates and they will become frustrated and not trust him. The worst thing a young quarterback wants is locker room tension.
New head coach Mike Pettine likes Hoyer a lot in his offense. There are even reports out there that the coaching staff was not all in favor of the Manziel pick, and instead it was owner Jimmy Haslam’s call. The defense for Cleveland is very good. Despite wide receiver Josh Gordon’s legal problems, Cleveland has built a solid foundation. Hoyer has learned from the best in the league during his time in New England. In limited time as a starter, he has shown some promise. Hoyer starting at quarterback in 2014 not only gives the Browns the best chance of winning, but it also provides Manziel with a good role model to learn from.