If the Cleveland Browns are as interested in drafting Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as reports indicate, the beleaguered club could be lining up the most exciting player in college football to turn its fortunes around with a new coach, a new offense, and a true ticket-seller at the game's most important position.
But at what cost?
Indications that the Browns want Manziel now come from three sources: First Sports Illustrated, then cbssports.com, and NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport put his thumbprint on both reports Monday morning:
The Browns hold the No. 4 and No. 26 overall picks in the draft, the latter of which the club acquired from the Indianapolis Colts in an early-season trade for running back Trent Richardson. If the club wants Manziel at No. 4, it will have to sit through two of the first three picks with one eye closed. The Houston Texans, drafting No. 1 overall, and the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 3 both have a strong need for a quarterback. The St. Louis Rams, picking at No. 2, figure to target a different position, given general manager Les Snead's confidence in quarterback Sam Bradford.
So is Manziel's draft stock truly rising fast enough that the No. 4 overall pick might not even be enough to get him? Consider this:
Of course, the Browns could always package its two first-round picks in a trade to move up and get Manziel with a higher pick. Both the Texans and Rams have indicated that they may be willing dance partners for clubs who want to move up in the first round. Texans owner Bob McNair said as much a couple of weeks ago, as did the Rams' Snead.
And, of course, there is always the possibility that the Browns are floating the idea that Manziel is their guy to drum up interest from other clubs wanting to move up and get the former Aggies star themselves. After all, it's not as if Cleveland couldn't trade down and make good use of a couple of extra picks itself, coming off a 4-12 season. If the Browns would be happy with another quarterback drafted later in the round, or even the second round, they could parlay Manziel Mania into a windfall of picks with which to rebuild the roster.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.