Commentary | After what feels like years, the NFL draft is nigh

adell@bradenton.comMay 4, 2014 

Texas A&M Pro Day Football

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel passes the ball during a drill at pro day for NFL football representatives†in College Station, Texas, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

PATRIC SCHNEIDER — ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAMPA

There is a rumor that the NFL draft will actually take place this week.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has no choice to finally hold it, despite rumors he wanted to stave it off for another month to keep his league in the news.

The draft is already two weeks later than it has been in previous seasons, though it feels like two years if you are counting all the mock drafts.

New York has been overrun by draftniks who are eating each other alive, unconcerned that Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are among their prey.

There is a report that the 2015 draftees are coming in believing it's their turn to take the stage and shake hands with Goodell.

But when it comes to the draft, there is always confusion. Otherwise, we wouldn't have Ryan Leaf to still kick around.

Jadeveon Clowney wanted to speed things up and come out last season, but some folks at South Carolina were worried his life would be less worthwhile if he didn't take those two

basket weaving classes he would have skipped over.

Clowney would've been better off signing with an agent and sitting out the 2013 season. At least he would've had lunch money.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik is a draft-day casualty, though he also undistinguished himself over paying free agents who were just looking for handouts.

A reason most head coaches and GMs are running scared of quarterbacks this season is because of what transpired in 2011.

Four quarterbacks were selected among the top 12 picks in the '11 draft, and three turned out to be busts. Carolina picked first and got it right with Cam Newton. The next three were Jake Locker (Tennessee), Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville) and Christian Ponder (Minnesota). Out of those, Locker is the only one that has a chance to salvage his value -- if he can stay on the field. But both he and Ponder saw their teams decline their fitfh-year option this offseason.

The next two quarterbacks chosen were selected in the second round and are now established starters in Andy Dalton (Cincinnati) and Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco).

Some were calling Gabbert the best quarterback in the draft, but he has gone 5-22 as a starter and was recently dealt for just a sixth-round pick.

There have been worse quarterbacks busts: Jamarcus Russell (first pick in '07), Vince Young (third pick in '06) and Mark Sanchez (fifth pick in '09).

All of the aforementioned are a reason some GMs and coaches are scared of Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel. It's easier to pass on him. If he is a bust, they can say "told you so."

But Manziel is tempting because he could be a franchise quarterback who fills up seats and creates excitement. There is no other quarterback in this year's draft who can do that, though there are some potentially good ones in UCF's Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr -- brother of former first overall pick and QB bust David Carr -- and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the first two picks in the '12 draft, were no-brainers, but how did Russell Wilson slip to 75th when Brandon Weeden was selected 22nd by Cleveland?

The answer: Cleveland is Cleveland.

With a reputation for incompetence, the Browns have the least to lose in choosing Manziel.

Cleveland picks fourth, and you would think the Browns would go for broke and get Johnny Football. But then again, this franchise has bumbled its way through multiple drafts and five-straight nondescript quarterbacks.

They reportedly love receiver Sammy Watkins -- but isn't that like asking the love of your life out for a date with no car to pick her up in? A receiver is only as good as the quarterback throwing him the ball.

If the Bucs truly want a franchise quarterback, they will need to get him in the first round, with either the seventh pick, or by paying a hefty price to trade up a few spots.

If Manziel is available, you hope Bucs head coach Lovie Smith has the courage to select him.

The only other thing we know is that there is a draft Thursday.

At least that's what Mr. Goodell says.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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