If the Vikings drafted Johnny Manziel, would he still be in the NFL?
By Adam Patrick
Would former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel still be in the league if the Minnesota Vikings drafted him in 2014 and not the Cleveland Browns?
Back during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns were among several teams that were attempting to acquire the No. 22 pick from the Philadelphia Eagles. Both the Browns and Vikings reportedly had their sights set on using the selection to pick former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel according to NBC Sports’ Peter King.
The Browns ended up acquiring the selection from the Eagles and they went on to use the pick to grab Manziel. 10 selections later, Minnesota traded back into the first round to draft their consolation prize, former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Heading into the upcoming 2022 season, Bridgewater is competing to be a backup with the Miami Dolphins, and Manziel is currently playing in the Fan Controlled Football league. If Manziel actually wound up with the Vikings in the 2014 draft, would he still be in the NFL today?
Minnesota Vikings were better equipped to handle Johnny Manziel than the Cleveland Browns
Despite getting drafted in the first round, the former Texas A&M quarterback only managed to last two seasons with Cleveland before they moved on from him.
Manziel’s departure from the Browns was due to a variety of reasons that included his disappointing play on the field, accusations of domestic violence, and an inability to put his career before partying.
In 2018, Manziel claimed that he and Cleveland weren’t a good fit for each other. He has taken full responsibility for his actions off of the field, but he also doesn’t believe he wasn’t put in the best position to succeed with the Browns.
So what if the Vikings were the team that ended up drafting Manziel in 2014 and not Cleveland? Would he have had a better shot at remaining in the NFL for more than two seasons?
If Manziel had landed with Minnesota in 2014, his head coach would have been Mike Zimmer. Before the Vikings hired him, Zimmer was previously the Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator, a role where he managed to keep controversial players like Adam “Pacman” Jones and Vontaze Burfict out of trouble.
Zimmer wouldn’t have tolerated Manziel’s partying habits, but the head coach and Minnesota might have put forth a better effort to help the young quarterback keep his focus on the football field.
The Vikings also ran an offense under Norv Turner that was friendly to a young, developing quarterback. Just look at how Bridgwater was used in Minnesota during the 2015 season when the team’s offense finished the year ranked fourth in rushing attempts and 32nd in pass attempts.
The Vikings are also an organization that has a history of getting the most out of players that were viewed as controversial to the public before they became a part of the franchise.
Cris Carter, Randy Moss, and Percy Harvin were all deemed risks before they ended up with Minnesota and they all turned out to be pretty decent out on the field.
So would Manziel still be in the NFL if it was the Vikings that drafted him in 2014 and not the Browns?
It’s difficult to say because it’s possible that the former Texas A&M quarterback just had too many hurdles to overcome in order to succeed with any of the 32 teams in the league. However, his chances to remain in the NFL for longer than two seasons probably would have been much higher in Minnesota than they were in Cleveland.