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Browns player questioned drafting Johnny Manziel over Teddy Bridgewater

Hindsight is always 20-20, especially when it comes to selecting players in the NFL Draft. What can look like a no-brainer at the time can look like a leap of faith, even a foolish move when looking back.

It appears that at least one anonymous Cleveland Browns player, after only one start by Johnny Manziel, openly questioned whether it was the best decision for the team to take Johnny Manziel with 22nd-overall picks in the 2014 NFL Draft when Teddy Bridgewater was still available, according to a report from Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman.

The unidentified Browns player reportedly made the observation after Manziel’s brutal debut as an NFL starter, a game in which the rookie went 10-for-18 for 80 yards and two interceptions in a 30-0 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 14.

“Think about where we’d be now,” the player recalled telling a teammate, per Freeman’s report, “if we had drafted Teddy Bridgewater.”

In light of how Manziel not only struggled on the field, but made headlines off it with his antics, the notion that teammates already were fed up with him after only one start isn’t good. It appeared to some that Manziel wasn’t taking his job seriously enough and didn’t seem inclined to doing everything possible to be prepared if and when his number was called.

Things arguably went from bad to worse when Manziel announced the day after the Super Bowl that he was seeking treatment. While it’s a move that demonstrates a growing maturity in Manziel, it also is a source of great concern for the Browns that its presumed franchise quarterback’s private life was in some semblance of shambles.

Various mock drafts had Manziel coming off the board much sooner than he did and Bridgewater was coming off a terrible pro day that caused his draft stock to plummet dramatically.

Bridgewater of course was drafted with the 32nd pick after the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the first round to select the Louisville star. After being inserted into the lineup ahead of schedule to replace the injured Matt Cassel, Bridgewater struggled at times but overall had a highly successful rookie campaign, completing 64.4% of his passes to go along with 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.

Freeman notes in his report that a “prevailing theme” among Browns players is the belief that Manziel, despite the hype, simply cannot play and that there is a general consensus in the locker room that players are dissatisfied with the young quarterback, that he doesn’t have the makeup to prepare or learn or improve.

Freeman, in a predominantly damning indictment of the prospect that Manziel can develop into a capable NFL quarterback, adds that he “contacted several Browns players toward the end of the season,” and that “they were clearly exasperated with Manziel.”

No matter how it is sliced, it’s definitely not a good situation for the Browns by any measure. Teammates reportedly shunned Manziel during pregame introductions ahead of his first start. Browns general manager Ray Farmer mentioned recently that the team has no qualms about drafting another quarterback in the first round. On the other hand, team owner Jimmy Haslam said last week that it’s “way too early to give up” on Manziel.

If there’s one person that’s good to have in your corner as a player, it’s the guy who signs your paychecks.

(photo credit: Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports)