NFL Draft Rumors: Vikings To Monitor Johnny Manziel’s Character At Pro Day; Carlos Hyde, Tre Mason Vying To Be Top Back

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Johnny Manziel

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In recent days, both the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns have made it known the team’s will be selecting quarterbacks in May, but it’s not a guarantee that it will be in the first round.

The XN Mock Draft 1.0 projects the Minnesota Vikings to nab UCF’s Blake Bortles with the eighth overall selection, but that has not stopped first-year coach Mike Zimmer from doing his homework on Johnny Manziel.

In an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Zimmer stated he plans to examine Manziel’s maturity and leadership at the Texas A&M Pro Day Thursday and place a higher importance on those intangibles than the quarterback’s on-the-field workout.

“It’s still going to come down to how we feel about how he’s going to be in the locker room, what kind of person he’s going to be, what kind of leader, and then go from there,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer wasn’t the only coach who will be monitoring Manziel on Thursday. Here’s what Browns coach Mike Pettine and Texans coach Bill O’Brien said about the former Heisman Trophy winner, via USA TODAY Sports.

“We research (players) all the same, but (his off-the-field issues are) something that’s been well publicized,” Pettine said. “‘Some guys’ folders are a little bit thicker than others, but I don’t think there is anything that is alarming there.”

“We want a guy that is accountable, good character guy, pocket passer, good decision maker, good teammate, coachable, smart, tough physically and mentally,” O’Brien said. “Whether he’s 6-5 or 5-10, does he have these things and like I said, smart? Is he going to be able to process what we do? In this league, you have to be able to throw the ball accurately, so that’s a big, big deal.”

If and when the Vikings select Manziel, don’t count the team out of taking a chance on another quarterback in the later rounds. According to TFY Draft Insider Tony Pauline, Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner is intrigued by Clemson’s Tajh Boyd.

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said he’s never seen a running back break more tackles or pick up more yards after contact than Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde, who he ranks as the top player at his position this year.

NFL Films’ Greg Cosell likened Hyde to Eddie Lacy and Le’Veon Bell, who were drafted in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively, in the 2013 draft. But Cosell doesn’t consider Hyde as the top back in this crop.

According to Cosell, Auburn’s Tre Mason deserves that honor. Cosell believes Mason can fit into more offensive systems as he demonstrated with the Tigers’ multiple running formations. Mason has long been projected as a second- or third-round selection.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.