Feb 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel walks on the field after running the 40 yard dash during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
In a recent roundtable interview appearing on dallascowboys.com, former NFL scout and current football analyst for the team site Bryan Broaddus was asked: Ff available, would the Cowboys draft Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel next month? While the other two writers baulked at the idea of draft Manziel as anything other than trade-bait, Broaddus had a different take.
"“I like Blake Bortles myself. But I think it’s going to be really hard for these guys (front office) to pass on Manziel if he’s sitting there at 16. But I do agree on the trade value there. I don’t think he’s even going to get to 16. But to play along with your game, I think I would do it, yes.”"
When pressed by fellow dallascowboys.com writer Nick Eatman about how long Manziel would sit on the sidelines behind starter Tony Romo, Broaddus defended his choice.
"“I’m thinking of big picture things here. I’m looking at Tony Romo with potentially a back issue. We can all sit here and say ‘Oh everything is going to be just fine with Tony. No problem with the back or anything like that.’…I think there’s a reason why Kyle Orton tried to hold them up for some money. You knew he needed more money because he started thinking: ‘Week Three. Hey, I might have to take this visor off and go play.’ I think you have to think about this future. And if a guy like Manziel, that kinda talent…you’re going to have to take this journey. Okay, if you’re 4-12 and Tony Romo’s blowing up, you’re going to get an opportunity to draft a quarterback anyway. But to me, this guy is a rare talent in my opinion.”"
When asked what if Romo is healthy and successful this season, Broaddus dropped this bombshell:
"“I think Tony Romo is really a two-to-three year plan. I’m not going to get trapped…I lived this when we were playing with baseball player quarterbacks…I lived this where we didn’t have a quarterback…This is one position I am not messing with, regardless of when this pick is made.”"
All this talk about Johnny Football could be a moot point as many mock drafts have the former Heisman winner being selected within the top seven picks. Still, Broaddus’ argument is valid. Romo will turn 34 before the regular season starts and he is coming off his second back procedure within a year. How much longer can we all expect Tony to play at a high level before his skills begin to diminish or his body succumbs to more injury?
With a 31-year old back-up in Orton threatening to retire and a 30-year old third-year draft bust in Brandon Weeden behind Romo on the depth chart, Dallas does not have a viable option to replace him long term. And there are currently zero quarterbacks on the roster pushing for Romo’s starting job. Isn’t position competition a good thing? I swear I’ve heard head coach Jason Garrett preach that before. Maybe that simply doesn’t apply to Romo.
Regardless, the Cowboys need to start looking sooner rather than later for Romo’s eventual replacement. Even if that replacement isn’t named Manziel. There will be plenty of candidates for the Cowboys to choose from in next month’s draft. And there certainly are plenty more pressing team needs Dallas should address before selecting a quarterback for the future. But that doesn’t mean the issue should be ignored.