NFL Rumors: Johnny Manziel Not a Lock to Start Week 1

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Johnny Manziel

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns swept Johnny Manziel off the board by trading up to the No. 22 spot to stop the former Heisman Trophy winner’s first-round free fall. This is the marriage we’ve long been expecting, ever since it was reported Browns owner Jimmy Haslam loved Manziel back in January.

But being the team’s first-round pick has not put Manziel on the fast-track for the Browns’ starting quarterback job. Coach Mike Pettine prefers not to put a rookie under center Week 1, and insists he will have to compete with incumbent Brian Hoyer for that right.

Per the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“Whether he was taken at four, or going at 22, it will be a competition and I meant that when I said it,” Pettine said. “I don’t think you can hand jobs to people when they come in. It’s a situation where despite what’s around him and what’s following him — and there will be that pressure to play him — we’re in the business of evaluating the best quarterback for the Cleveland Browns to win football games and that’s who’s going to play, whether that’s Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel.”

Pettine must have learned a few things over the years. When he was the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets under Rex Ryan, the team drafted Mark Sanchez in the first round then trotted him out as the starter Week 1. Last year with the Buffalo Bills, Doug Marrone did the same with E.J. Manuel.

Apparently Pettine has seen the results and is opting to do it his way.

In April, Pettine admitted he would be hesitant to start a rookie quarterback at the start of his first season as head coach, explaining just because they were a high draft pick doesn’t mean they have to start right away.

Hoyer, a six-year veteran, started three games for Cleveland in 2013, winning all three. He threw for 615 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions, but his season came to an end after he tore his ACL.

Hoyer is already taking part in team workouts, and remains atop the Brown’ depth chart. And despite the drafting of Manziel Thursday night, he remains confident he’ll be under center Week 1.

“No matter what happens in the draft, I’ll have that chance to compete for the starting job,” Hoyer told USA TODAY Sports. “And if it comes down to that, I have the ultimate confidence in myself that no matter who they bring in here, I can beat them out.”

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