Johnny Manziel hasn’t heard from Jerry Jones since the first round of the NFL Draft ended. But the former Texas A&M quarterback admits he had hoped the Cowboys’ owner would call him when Dallas was on the clock with the 16th overall pick.
Though Jones said Manziel was the top-rated player left on the team’s board, the Cowboys instead took Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin.
“I was sitting there talking to [agent] Eric [Burkhardt], saying, ‘This could be an actual possibility,’ ” Manziel said in a phone interview Saturday. “Obviously, I saw I might have been the highest-rated player on their board [at the time], but that’s neither here nor there. Once you kind of look back at it, I think they have a very, very solid quarterback. That wasn’t actually really an area of need.
“It could have been, and you don’t know what they were thinking, obviously, but I feel they did what they thought was best.”
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The Cowboys have too much invested in quarterback Tony Romo, who signed a six-year, $108 million extension with $55 million guaranteed last year, and they have too many other needs considering their 2013 defense ranked third-worst in NFL history.
“There’s too much in my mind of Romo left, years of Romo,” Jones said Friday. “There’s too much downtime for Manziel [to sit and wait]. I think he’s going to a situation right now, where he’s got a chance to walk in up there and be a player, a chance to play soon. I didn’t think that was our situation.”
Manziel and Jones became friendly over the past two years with the 2012 Heisman winner attending several events at AT&T Stadium. Manziel even sat in Jones’ suite during the NCAA Final Four semifinals.
Manziel said the Cowboys’ first-round decision won’t change his relationship with Jones.
“I’m sure we’ll cross paths eventually down the road,” he said.
But Manziel has changed allegiances from his childhood team, the Cowboys, to the Browns after Cleveland made him the 22nd overall pick. He had expected to be a top-10 choice.
Manziel has tuned out the criticism he faced Thursday night and since, including a supposed leaked scouting report of Manziel from the New England Patriots.
“The second my name was called it’s been go, go, go, and I haven’t had time to sit back and reflect all that much,” Manziel said. “Criticism never gets to me all that much.”
Manziel already has a playbook, after a brief visit to Cleveland, and he returns to his new home Sunday to begin readying for a quarterback competition with incumbent Brian Hoyer.
“I want to come in and compete,” said Manziel, who won’t play the Byron Nelson Championship Pro-Am next week as planned. “I’m a highly competitive person. That’s absolutely a goal to come in and compete and try to make our team better.
“He’s obviously had a head start on getting to learn some of these things and he knows these guys better than I do, so there’s a lot I can take away from him.”
The Browns have had 20 starting quarterbacks since their return in 1999, including first-rounders Tim Couch, Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden. Quinn and Weeden also were 22nd overall picks.
But Manziel is convinced he can do what they couldn’t do.
“I think I’m coming into a better situation than some of the instances in the past, with a very good offensive coordinator [Kyle Shanahan] who has had some success the past couple of years with a mobile guy [in Robert Griffin III],” Manziel said. “You look at everything going on here, and it definitely puts a smile on your face.”