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Johnny Manziel sets up Cleveland Browns to contend

The Cleveland Browns have gone from league laughingstock to one of the most fascinating teams in the NFL. It only took one pick.

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Johnny Manziel makes the Browns imminently watchable. More importantly, he gives them a legitimate chance to contend for the playoffs starting now.

This is a playoff-ready defense led by a deep defensive line. They added Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert to a talented secondary. (Gilbert and Joe Haden will make quite a cornerback pair.) They have one of the sharpest defensive minds in new coach Mike Pettine. And they have an offense with the talent already in place for Manziel to succeed right away.

Offensive tackle Joe Thomas, wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron are long-term pieces to build around. Andrew Hawkins adds a shifty element out of the slot. They have a Pro Bowl center in Alex Mack. New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan knows a thing or two about coaching a quarterback with great movement that gets a lot of attention off the field. With all apologies to Brian Hoyer, all the Browns lacked was a quarterback that could make plays on his own.

The selection of Manziel is extra sweet because of what it says about new general manager Ray Farmer. Cleveland's haul for Thursday: Gilbert, Manziel and Buffalo's first- and fourth-round picks in 2015. It already seems like a long time ago that we were hearing jokes about the failed pursuit of Jim Harbaugh, and the firings of former president Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi.

Manziel helps to erase all that. The Browns are going to be in an unfamiliar position: The trendy team that everyone wants to see on television. And they have every right to believe they can contend now in a watered-down AFC North.

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