Five teams in the top 10 are legitimate landing spots for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The question about Manziel is "which team actually pulls the trigger and takes him," NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport said Tuesday on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access Draft Preview".
Rapoport named St. Louis (which picks second), Jacksonville (third), Cleveland (fourth), Tampa Bay (seventh) and Minnesota (eighth) as potential landing spots, and said no one he has talked to thinks Manziel goes outside the top 10. Regardless, Rapoport said, Manziel's "basement" -- the lowest he could be selected -- is 13th, when the Rams are scheduled to make their second first-round selection.
Rapoport said UCF's Blake Bortles, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Fresno State's Derek Carr are the other quarterbacks who continue to be named as potential first-rounders. Rapoport said Carr "has more buzz on him than Bridgewater and Bortles," and mentioned Cleveland, Arizona and Oakland as teams that seem most interested. Cleveland has two first-round picks, at Nos. 4 and 26, and Rapoport said Carr could be in play at the 26th pick. Oakland picks fifth, and Rapoport said the Raiders would be interested "if they move back." Arizona selects 20th.
Rapoport also said most teams believe Bortles is a first-rounder, but said he's "difficult to place" in the round.
NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock agreed, saying slotting the quarterbacks after Manziel was indeed tough. Mayock also said there is "more quarterback intrigue than in any draft we've ever done."
NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner said he thinks all the quarterbacks in this draft have issues with footwork and decision-making, but he likes Manziel the best.
"His competitiveness is just different," Warner said.
Warner also said Manziel has "a lot of work to do" in throwing from the pocket.
Warner has Bridgewater as his No. 2 quarterback, saying "he's still the best quarterback on tape in this draft." Bortles is third, Carr fourth and LSU's Zach Mettenberger fifth in Warner's rankings. Warner said Carr has "the most arm talent" in the class.
While none of the top quarterbacks truly are NFL-ready, NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes said he thought four or five rookies would be playing early in the season. In those cases, analyst Greg Schiano said, the "general manager, owner and coach all have to be on the same page." Schiano went through that situation last season, when second-round pick Mike Glennon took over early in the season for veteran Josh Freeman, who was released a week after he was benched.
Dukes mentioned that fans play a role, saying, "The louder the fans get (in calling for a rookie quarterback), the owner starts listening."
The decisions made by QB-needy teams in the next few days will determine just how many owners could potentially find themselves hearing those calls from fans come next season.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.