While Manziel has acquired significantly more momentum in recent weeks, with Bridgewater seemingly sliding out of the first round, logic suggests that both will be taken Thursday night.
Many of the draft experts (from actual to self-labeled) have left one or the other out of round one in their multi-edition mock drafts, but not because the draft experts (from actual to self-labeled) know with certainty what each and every team thinks about both players. For many of the draft experts (from actual to self-labeled) the placement of Manziel or Bridgewater or both (or neither) in round one of the mock drafts has become not an exercise in projecting what teams will do, but an attempt to call their shots about the eventual success or failure of both players.
So many of the draft experts (from actual to self-labeled) seem to be less concerned about being right in their mock drafts than being proven right about whether Manziel or Bridgewater will thrive or dive at the next level. Lost in this attempt to be able to say, a year or two after the fact when no one really cares anymore, that they correctly predicted the pro potential of Manziel or Bridgewater or both is the reality that teams can have dramatically conflicting assessments of the players — as dramatic and varied as the conflicting assessments among the draft experts (from actual to self-labeled).
Also lost in this quest for stale and largely meaningless vindication is the fact that many factors go into whether a quarterback booms or busts, from coaching to systems to supporting cast to quality of the team’s defense.
For now, the question is whether either or both Manziel and Bridgewater will be first-round picks. Even if 31 franchises take a guy off their board, all it takes is one team to make the player a first-round pick and — behold — he’s a first-round pick. Regardless of what happens in the future for Tim Tebow, he was and always will be a first-round pick in the NFL draft.
It’s far more tempting for teams to make a guy a first-round pick at the quarterback position, because most teams don’t have true franchise quarterbacks and because the draft is the only place to find the next wave of them. Also, with the first round now giving teams up to five years to control a player’s rights, the temptation to trade back into the bottom of round one becomes stronger.
So while either or both may slide through part of the first round, the position is far too important to keep them from being drafted among the first 32 players. And in the unlikely event one makes it past the first night of draft action, he surely won’t last long on Friday night, after teams have had a chance to reset their boards and realize that a guy who possibly will become a franchise quarterback remains in play.
For the teams that don’t have franchise quarterbacks, getting a guy who possibly could develop into one becomes the next best option.