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Sports


Terry Pluto: Why the Browns should pass on "Johnny Football" in the draft
Terry Pluto says that while Johnny Manziel would give the team some sizzle, he'd pass on the Texas A&M quarterback and thinks the Browns will too
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that he expects the Browns to pick Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel at No. 4, if he’s still there.
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The Cleveland Browns have the fourth pick in Thursday’s NFL draft and like most years, the pressure is on the front office to make the right move. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says that after another 4-12 season, the Browns need to get a player who can make a difference right away.

LISTEN: Terry Pluto on Browns draft and Johnny Manziel

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The Browns have 10 total draft picks this year, including five in the top 100 selections. They have picks 4, 26, 35, 71, 83, 106, 127, 145, 180 and 218. 

Terry Pluto says it's a good draft class. "If all the experts are right – [there's] a lot of good talent, far more good players than a year ago. And it’s the kind of draft that could really get the franchise going in the right direction, or if you mess it up you’re back in the ditch again of going 4-12.”

Pressure on Haslam 
For owner Jimmy Haslam, “this is really his draft. Because the year before … he let Joe Banner, a CEO veteran NFL guy, kind of run the whole show. He didn’t like the way last season went. He fired everybody.”

The Manziel question
The big question is whether or not the Browns will select Johnny "Football" Manziel. The Texas A&M quarterback is the only freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Pluto says that he's charismatic. He's fun to watch. He is great television. And he was a terrific college quarterback. But he wonders whether that will translate to the NFL. “He’s 5’11. He runs around like a scared cat on a hot tin roof – Tennesee Williams line – and to me he would drive a conservative coach like Mike Pettine crazy…Also, the way he plays, where he gets tackled a lot, he’s asking to get hurt.”

Still, Pluto acknowledges, “He’s very exciting. Now if Jimmy Haslam is concerned about marketing -- immediately selling tickets and creating a buzz around this team – you’ll take Johnny Football because he’s Johnny Football.”

“But the question is, if you take "Johnny Football" and he ends up being "Johnny Average" or "Johnny Injury," you’ve wasted the fourth pick. And after that initial buzz and T-shirt sales of the first five to six months, you suddenly realize we just messed up on the fourth pick of the draft."

Fans agree
Terry Pluto conducted a poll of readers at Cleveland.com and he was surprised to see that about 75% of the more than 5,000 people who voted said they wouldn't pick Manziel.

“He will be a polarizing figure if they pick him,” Pluto says. "And part of that is because fans want to give QB Brian Hoyer – a Cleveland St. Ignatius grad – a chance."

Pluto's picks 
Pluto says he’d like to see the Browns use the No. 4 pick on someone like Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack or Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, and pick a QB later w the No. 26 pick. (With that pick, he likes Teddy Bridgwater of Louisville.)

NFL fans, says Pluto, have come to regard the draft as a second Super Bowl or a kind of March Madness. And Browns fans expectations may be higher than most because the Browns draft picks are – year-after-year – higher than most.

“And until you start getting them right, you’re going to keep having them, too.”

Fans “quit on the Browns right after the season’s over, and then the draft comes in and they’re re-engaged.”

Pluto says the Browns have had good picks: left tackle Joe Thomas in 2007, who is a likely Hall of Famer, and Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft. But, he still reflects on this question: “When was the last time the Browns drafted someone who sold a lot of jerseys?”

Terry Pluto on the Indians bad start
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(7:05)

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Cleveland Browns top two execs are gone; Farmer takes over as GM
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