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Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater in position to succeed early


NFL Media analyst Brian Billick was not afraid to dive into the research notebook ahead of Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft and came away with a little nugget about quarterbacks taken in the late first round while he was at it.

In the past 15 drafts, 10 quarterbacks have been taken between picks 20 and 32. Of those 10, including Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, only one -- Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers -- has failed to be a bust. We don't yet know how Bridgewater and Manziel will turn out in the NFL, but as Billick alludes to, being mentioned with the likes of Tim Tebow, J.P. Losman and Patrick Ramsey doesn't exactly bode well for their futures.

Can the pair of 2014 first-round signal-callers buck the trend and end up more like Rodgers? Several NFL Network analysts weighed in on the subject, and almost to a man they thought the two join the league in good situations with enough talent around them. In fact, both players have a better chance to succeed than the first quarterback drafted this year, Blake Bortles.

"I don't think Bortles is in the best situation because I don't believe they have the talent on that roster to surround him and have him make plays early," former quarterback Kurt Warner said. "I'm intrigued by Johnny Manziel in Cleveland. They may have the best roster, a solid defense, some playmakers on offense to help him out and a good tight end."

Despite their identical 4-12 records in 2013, there's little argument that Cleveland sports the better roster heading into the season, even before factoring in what each squad does in the draft. The Browns sent four offensive players to the Pro Bowl and had some early-season momentum before Brian Hoyer tore his ACL. The Jaguars did open the wallets in free agency to beef up the offense, but even with that the team will be lacking some game-changing playmakers for Bortles to develop chemistry with.

The plan general manager David Caldwell outlined for Bortles at his introductory press conference indicated the team plans to sit the quarterback during the season before taking over for starter Chad Henne. As we've seen time and time again however -- especially with top-five picks -- things rarely turn out as planned and a rookie quarterback is often pressed into action before he's ready. While Bortles might have the luxury of having some time on the bench, he probably won't have as much as planned.

As for Manziel, Browns fans will also clamor for him to see the field sooner rather than later. The good news for the Heisman Trophy winner is he'll have Ben Tate to hand the ball off to, Josh Gordon on the outside to throw to and a solid offensive line. But as much talent as there is in Cleveland, the best situation might belong to Bridgewater in Minnesota.

The Vikings, of course, have the league's best running back in Adrian Peterson and a dynamic threat at wideout in Cordarrelle Patterson. Add in an experienced offensive coordinator in Norv Turner, and it could be the final first-round pick that ends up being the best rookie in 2014.

"A lot of it starts with Adrian Peterson," Warner said. "Here's a guy that can take the pressure off of you right off the bat because you can hand him the ball. But, he's going to force defenses to drop extra guys in the box to stop him. That makes the coverages you'll see in situations as a young quarterback much easier to handle. You're not going to see nearly as many looks and you'll probably get more one-on-one opportunities."

All three first-round quarterbacks will have to beat out incumbent veteran starters in fall camp or during the season first, so it's always a guessing game who will see the field first. Taking a look at each of their situations would lead many to believe the Vikings and Browns would at least be OK in the short term if forced to insert a rookie early in the 2014 campaign.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.



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