(Photos courtesy of Dallas Cowboys)
Talk of Fame Network
Former NFL executive Gil Brandt knows a football player when he sees one, and if you’d asked him a year ago if Johnny Manziel was an NFL-caliber quarterback he’d have given you a thumbs-up.
But now? Well, not so much.
A year after following Manziel’s escapades on and off the field, Brandt concedes he doesn't know if the Cleveland quarterback can cut it in the bigs. What he does know, however, is that Manziel won’t if he doesn’t take his new job more seriously.
“A year ago,” Brandt said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “I’d have said. “Yes, he’s going to be a very, very good football player in this league.’ Rick Gosselin does a great job because he’s a gifted writer. But he’s also the hardest worker I know. Manziel is a gifted football player, but I don’t think he realizes that you can’t rely on what you did at the college level and be successful in the NFL.
“And to be successful in the NFL especially at the quarterback position you have to be totally committed. I think when we look at players like (Peyton) Manning and (Andrew) Luck and all of these players who have done so well at the quarterback position -- including (Cam) Newton, who a lot of people think could not do it – I’m not sure Manziel can do the work and sit down with the playbook instead of talking about it and actually doing it.”
What Brandt is sure of, however, is that the Dallas Cowboys – an organization that he helped build into the league’s marquee franchise --- seems to have gotten the draft right after several notable misses. They not only won the NFC East last season; they won their second playoff game in 18 years. And much of the credit goes to the draft that once seemed to befuddle owner Jerry Jones but is now a contributing piece to a successful club.
“I think they have hired some people there who are really involved in the process,” said Brandt. “When (former personnel chief) Larry Lacewell was there, whatever Jerry thought was a good player they were going to take that player. And some of the players Jerry ended up taking ... and one of the last players Jerry was involved in, the cornerback (Morris) Claiborne ... I just hope he doesn’t turn out to be one of those players. But when you trade up to get a cornerback who didn’t run very fast and is not very big you ask yourself why.
“They’ve done a really good job of taking solid players. A couple of years ago they were criticized for taking (Travis) Frederick, the center from Wisconsin, and he’s a Pro Bowl player, a really good player. And, yeah, they probably could’ve traded down again and taken a chance on getting him in the second round but why do that?
“And then last year everybody thought they needed a defensive player, and they took an offensive lineman (guard Zack Martin), who was the first offensive lineman as a rookie in 66 years to make All-Pro. So when you start doing that, and getting Tyron Smith at left tackle, all of a sudden that whole process changes, and I think that’s what’s happened there. Then there's the fact that (Tony) Romo had a really outstanding year last year. So they have the nucleus of some player there now.”