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Kyle Shanahan on Johnny Manziel: 'The guy can play football'

  • By Daniel Kim
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The Cleveland Browns have seemingly been all over the map on Johnny Manziel. Over the winter the team made it no secret that it was extremely high on the quarterback prospect. Then, reports surfaced in late February that the new regime under general manager Ray Farmer actually had its heart set not on Manziel but on Fresno State's Derek Carr. Things became even more puzzling when the Browns were a no-show at Manziel's pro day workout.

With less than a week before the NFL draft, as opinions about Manziel's draft position and whether his unique playing style can succeed in the NFL continue to swirl, Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has made at least one thing clear: He believes Manziel's success can carry over to the NFL.

"It's obvious how good of a player he is, how fun he is to watch," Shanahan told The Plain Dealer. "I think it does translate to the NFL. If you can make those plays in college, you can do it in the NFL."

But Shanahan also noted that although Manziel's size (6-feet, 207 pounds) and playing style aren't big concerns, he'll have to evolve in the pros.

"The one thing about the NFL, there's a lot of tape out there," he said. "You've got to be able to do everything. Whatever you do very good, they're going to eventually be able to shut that down, and you're going to have to do something else. He's going to be able to make plays in this league. Eventually, when they try to contain him, he's going to have to do everything he didn't always have to do in college.

"The guy can play football," Shanahan continued. "I don't care if you're a big guy or a smaller guy -- if you take too many hits in the league, I don't care who you are, it's tough to stay healthy. He's got to take care of himself, especially with the way he plays. But I think he definitely has the size to succeed in the league."

Shanahan previously spent three seasons as offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, where he coached a similarly mobile quarterback in Robert Griffin III. But as head coach Mike Pettine noted to The Plain Dealer, Shanahan also had success coaching a more conventional pocket passer in Matt Schaub while with the Houston Texans.

"One of the reasons I hired (Shanahan) is that his system is flexible," Pettine said. "He was able to be productive with Matt Schaub, who wouldn't be on your list of mobile quarterbacks in the NFL, then he was able to have a historic year with Robert Griffin, who's probably the most mobile. They come in all shapes and sizes.

"But I think we've gotten to the point where we're very much on the same page with what we're looking for."

What the Browns are looking for won't be revealed until next week, although Pettine recently indicated that in an ideal world they wouldn't select a quarterback with their No. 4 pick.'s recent mock drafts have taken note: All eight analysts have the team taking a quarterback with its No. 26 pick.

Of course, whether Manziel is still on the board at that point is debatable. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week that several teams believe it would be a major surprise if Manziel fell outside the top 10.

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