As Johnny Manziel fell further down the draft board on Thursday, Browns fans already decked out in their “Johnny Cleveland” shirts grew more anxious about whether they would get their guy.
Then it happened when Cleveland selected the cult hero with the 22nd pick. The team heard the pleas of the fans. Or at least one fan.
According to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s mind was made up after getting advice when he least expected it.
“Here in Cleveland, everywhere I go, people know me,” Haslam reportedly told Paolantonio. “I was out to dinner recently. A homeless person was out on the street. He looked up at me and said, ‘Draft Manziel.’ ”
And so it was decided.
Please spare us the jokes that the down-on-his luck fan was one of Cleveland’s recent first-round bust quarterbacks.
■ HE SAID WHAT? — The Buffalo Bills undoubtedly made the boldest move of the NFL Draft when they gave up a first- and fourth-round pick in 2015 to flip spots with Cleveland and move up five spots Thursday.
Buffalo’s front office had Sammy Watkins as the top-rated player in the draft, and when he was still on the board at No. 4, second-year general manager Doug Whaley decided to make the move.
It was a steep price to pay. Even if Watkins proves to be a game-changing talent, he will represent two years worth of first rounds for the Bills.
If he doesn’t, heads will roll.
The Bills are for sale and should a move like this prove to be a blunder, Whaley and the rest of the personnel people probably wouldn’t survive the ownership transfer.
The truly frightening part for Bills fans is that with the weapons now at E.J. Manuel’s disposal, this becomes a make-or-break year for the second-year quarterback, as well.
If he doesn’t have a big year, Buffalo would likely look for a replacement in next year’s quarterback-rich draft.
But there will be no first-round pick.
Whaley doesn’t really see it as much of a risk. In fact, he doesn’t even think it will be a very good pick when all is said and done.
“We’re building our roster now,” he told the Buffalo News. “Granted, you hate giving up No. 1 picks. But we thought what he brings to us now is worth a low No. 1 that we’ll be giving up next year.”
He does still know that low picks are reserved for teams that make the playoffs, right?
■ LAST LAUGH — There was a major Internet uproar for a few hours on draft day after a suspicious object appeared in a picture posted on Twitter by safety prospect Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
The former Alabama star posted a picture that was an obvious product-placement advertisement for phone-charging device Mophie.
Commenters and bloggers immediately focused on what appeared to be a marijuana joint next to him on a couch. Speculation ran rampant about what it could mean for his draft stock.
Later in the afternoon, Clinton-Dix addressed the confusion on social media.
“Lol you guys crazy…that’s a piece of tissue. I was in the lobby restaurant at the hotel having lunch,” he posted with a wider-angle shot showing him having lunch in a booth with the “rolled up tissue” next to him. “For those who got jokes….I was in a crowded restaurant…relax people.”
It appears he was telling the truth. Though if it was weed, it would explain why he’s named Ha Ha.
COMPILED BY ADAM HILL LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL