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Kiper: Johnny Manziel 'Consensus' No. 1 QB


ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. is fluent in the language of the NFL Draft.

He's been speaking it since the 1970s.

Kiper shared another lesson on all-things draft with an hour-long conference call on Thursday.

Perhaps the most notable takeaway from the call was Kiper's opinion on Texas A&M's popular quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning player known as "Johnny Football," appears to be the top quarterback in this year's draft class.

"When you talk to people in the league, he's kind of the consensus No. 1 quarterback," said Kiper, who sees several teams being interested in taking the play-making quarterback in the top 10.

"He is in the mix for Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Minnesota – all those teams need quarterbacks," Kiper said.

For the Browns, Kiper said it we be a surprise to see Manziel reach pick No. 4.

Kiper did admit that opinions differ on the Texas A&M signal-caller.

"There are some that don't have Manziel that high, but the ones that I talk to have him as the No. 1 quarterback," Kiper said. "I would see him going at (pick) one or three."

San Francisco's own starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, doesn't have to worry about fending off a top prospect like Manziel. Kaepernick, however, respects Manziel's approach to football and spoke highly of the play-making quarterback in a recent interview with Bill Simmons.

"I haven't spent any time talking to him," Kaepernick said of Manziel, "but I feel like the personality he gives off, (if he slides in the draft) I feel like he would come out in a fury."!

Manziel likely has mutual respect for San Francisco's quarterback. How so? Manziel borrowed Kaepernick's signature end zone celebration this season.

As for other notable quarterbacks in this year's draft, Kiper actually has Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater as his top-rated passer. Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles and Manziel round out Kiper's top three.

"That could change from now until the combine and after the combine and the pro days," Kiper said. "We don't know how tall they are and how they're going to test."

The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine will begin Saturday, Feb. 22 from Indianapolis, Ind.

Kiper said Bortles is gaining momentuam at this time of the evaluation process and that several teams have "mixed opinions" on Bridgewater. Here are other key notes from Kiper's conference call:


-Six offensive tackles could go in the first round.
-Pass-happy teams need right tackles need to be just as athletic as left tackles to neutralize dual pass-rushing threats on defense.
-Three left tackles, Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), Greg Robinson (Auburn) and Taylor Lewan (Michigan) are battling to be the top tackle drafted, all should go in top 10.


-Kiper would never draft a running back in the first round. "History tells you that."
-Kiper doesn't see a running back going in the first round, "maybe Carlos Hyde (Ohio State)."


-98 underclassmen mostly came out due to "injury concerns."
-It seemed like Jadaveon Clowney was worried about risking injury.
-Clowney, however, is No. 1 player on Kiper's draft board.
-Clowney could go at pick No. 1 or 3. Both Houston and Jacksonville needs to get pressure on Colts QB Andrew Luck.


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