The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have narrowed their options for the NFL draft's No. 7 overall pick, and Johnny Football has reportedly made the cut.
Former Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel is on a "short list" of the Bucs' first-round candidates, which might be of great interest to the quarterback-needy Minnesota Vikings, who follow Tampa Bay with the No. 8 pick.
Manziel's place in the Bucs' first-round plans was reported by espn.com on Thursday. On NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" show Wednesday night, analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Brian Baldinger speculated about a possible Manziel-Buccaneers marriage.
Jeremiah acknowleded that Tamapa Bay appears to be set at quarterback with newly acquired Josh McCown and second-year man Mike Glennon, "but I just think you have the ultimate wild card here -- Johnny Manziel, if he's still there when they pick. They should at least talk about it, kick around and consider it."
"We always talk about it," Baldinger added, "wherever Johnny Manziel goes, you have to have a system in place -- a good defense around him, a good running game, and really be a good complement to that. He would be a good fit in what (GM) Jason (Licht) and (head coach) Lovie (Smith) like to do."
A Manziel-to-Bucs draft scenario would put the star quarterback in bright lights in Week 3 of the newly announced NFL schedule. The Bucs play the Atlanta Falcons and veteran QB Matt Ryan on Thursday, Sept. 18 on NFL Network and CBS.
Tampa Bay's need for a quarterback isn't quite as strong as that of some other clubs. Still, it wouldn't be surprising if the team set its course for the future at the game's most critical position by drafting a QB early. McCown, after all, is 34. And Glennon will have to prove himself to a new coaching and front-office staff after a solid rookie campaign last year under since-fired coach Greg Schiano.
Manziel's former college teammate, wide receiver Mike Evans, has been projected as the Bucs' pick by NFL Media analysts Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis and Bucky Brooks. Quarterback figures to be higher on the priority list for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer -- also entering his first year with the club -- than Smith's, although Vikings general manager Rick Spielman isn't so sure the first round is the right time to pick a quarterback in this draft.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.