The Cleveland Browns selection of Johnny Manziel almost never happened. Prior to the draft, former team president Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi commissioned a study to aid their selection process. The study determined that Teddy Bridgewater was the quarterback most likely to be successful in the NFL.
Ultimately, the Browns ignored the study and followed their guts, Kyle Shanahan’s endorsement and the advice of a homeless man who approached owner Jimmy Haslam. According to ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi, Bridgewater was the original pick until seconds before their pick had to be in.
Via ESPN Cleveland:
There is a story going around that after making the trade to move up to No. 22 with the Browns’ second pick in the first round, GM Ray Farmer selected quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
A source told me that the card prepared to be given to Commissioner Roger Goodell for the official announcement in Radio City Music Hall originally had Bridgewater’s name on it. Then with 10 seconds to go, a new card replaced it with the name of Johnny Manziel, as a result of owner Jimmy Haslam’s order.
The story was laughed off by head coach Mike Pettine, but may have some validity to it if you heard Bridgewater speak to Dan Patrick earlier on Tuesday morning.
During the draft process, Bridgewater vowed to make the teams that didn’t draft him pay, but knew there was one location he didn’t want to get stuck in.
"I actually told my agent that that's not the place where I wanted to be.” Bridgewater told the Dan Patrick Show about the possibility of winding up as a Brown.
John Elway and Eli Manning also made similar requests during their pro careers, but Bridgewater’s was a bold maneuver from a quarterback who was once slated to go first overall before nearly tumbling out of the first round entirely.
If Bridgewater had been drafted by the Browns, things could have gotten uglier for a franchise that’s already reeling. Whether or not we ever discover if this story is true or urban legend, Bridgewater and Manziel's careers are now inextricably linked.