Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he had a tough time passing up the highly talented and popular Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL draft when he had a chance to take him with the Cowboys’ No.16 pick. Manziel was still on the board at the time the Cowboys made their selection, but instead of picking him, Jones opted to select the highly talented guard Zack Martin in order to strengthen the weak Cowboys offensive line.
Martin was a sure thing player with the talent to play at a high level immediately without a lot of developing. With Manziel there were a lot of unknowns about whether he would ever work out due to his lack of size, and because of his wild playing style.
“It was that close to putting that Manziel card in. It was that close. I looked over to my son, Stephen, our chief executive officer, and I said ‘I took the right pick,’” Jones said to the NFL Network. “He [Martin] was the top player by three players on our board at the time that we were sitting there looking at him.”
There’s no question that Jones made the right pick in selecting Martin, because he’s NFL ready and he fills a definite need that the Cowboys have on the offensive line regardless of who starts at quarterback.
Barring any serious injuries, Martin should be able to play in the league 10+ seasons at a high level. The Cowboys already have a high level quarterback at the helm in Tony Romo, who has the potential to play for another 3-4 seasons at a high level. The one negative about Romo is his age.
At 34, he could start breaking down physically from the wear and tear of the 16-game seasons. He’s got so much talent that he’ll likely be still a force even when he’s 37-38, but the question is whether his body will be able to take the punishment.
Having Manziel on the team would likely lead to a lot of stress on Romo, as fans go after him for each mistake he makes in games. It would prove difficult for him to remain as the starter with a guy as talented as Manziel on the bench behind him. The distraction for Romo would be huge, and it obviously wouldn’t be fair to him give the message that it would send to him with the Cowboys drafting a player like Manziel.
“But Manziel is special. I know him personally. I know that he is going to be a success in the National Football League. And it was a hard decision. And it is one that I will probably for the rest of my career think about,” Jones said.
It’s still debatable whether Manziel will pan out in the NFL or not. He’s not in a good situation with the Cleveland Browns, because he’s getting a lot of tough love with that organization and it appears that he may end up sitting and rotting on the bench.