Johnny Baseball: Padres take Browns QB in MLB Draft

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Just call him Johnny Baseball.

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 28th round of the Major League Baseball Draft Saturday — the 837th player taken. Manziel was listed as a shortstop for Texas A&M, although he never played for the Aggies as he focused on football.

Manziel, the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in 2012, was taken by the Browns with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL Draft last month.

"Big thank you to the (at)Padres and (at)padresmikedee for selecting me in the MLB Draft," Manziel wrote on his Twitter page. "What a great day!"

Dee, the Padres' president and CEO, tweeted back: "Best athlete on the board... (hash)JohnnyBaseball."

Manziel played baseball and football at Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas, and asked Texas A&M coaches about being part of the baseball team before winning the Aggies' starting quarterback job as a redshirt freshman.

Earlier this week, Manziel — decked out in an Indians jersey — was set to throw out the first pitch in Cleveland before the Indians played Boston. His toss was washed out by rain that delayed the start.

But, in May 2013, Manziel took batting practice with the Padres at Petco Park and tossed out a football-style first pitch as he dropped back, scrambled to the side of the mound and floated a bootleg "pass" to San Diego outfielder Mark Kotsay, who caught it behind his back with his glove.

On Manziel's first swing in batting practice, the bat flew out of his hands, but he settled down and later drove a pitch off the right-field wall.

ADIOS, BIG APPLE ... MAYBE

Welcome to the 2014 NFL Draft, live from Los Angeles … or Chicago … or Madison Square Garden.

Word this week had the league leaving its long-time home, Radio City Music Hall, and possibly heading for other cities.

Los Angeles is an intriguing option. Remember, there is no NFL team in the second-largest city in the United States.

But then, moving the draft to LA would spark renewal of talk that the league would have a team transfer there. That can of worms is primed to be opened.

What's clear, according to NFL insider Ian Rappaport, is the league is ready for a change.

According to NFL.com, all three top possibilities have plusses and minuses. And other cities are long shots or dark horses, choose your adjective. One thing is sure: Jerry Jones' palace near Dallas can't be counted out of anything NFL.

The most intriguing locale: Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ain't gonna happen, but it's a nice suggestion.

By the way, the NFL also appears ready to make two other significant changes to the draft. One, return it to April; and two, spread it over four days.

According to reports of a possible location change, the league is asking for venue space April 22-25 and April 29-May 2.

THE UNSIGNED

As the Texans made news that Jadeveon Clowney's contract is official, the question was obvious: Which first-round picks from the 2014 NFL Draft have yet to sign?

Clowney agreed to a four-year, $22.272 million contract on Friday. The accord was confirmed Saturday.

Here's who's left:

No. 2 pick Greg Robinson; Rams; No. 3 Blake Bortles, Jaguars; No. 7 pick Mike Evans, Buccaneers; No. 8 pick Justin Gilbert, Browns; No. 10 Eric Ebron, Lions; No. 11 Taylor Lewan, Titans; No. 13 Aaron Donald, Rams; No. 16 Zack Martin, Cowboys; No. 19 Ja'Wuan James, Dolphins; No. 22 Manziel, Browns; No. 26 Marcus Smith, Eagles; and No. 31 Bradley Roby, Broncos.

We're reminded that there few surprises in contracts there days. AL.com sets the expected deal at four years (just like everyone else), with a $21,284,098 salary and $13,799,344 signing bonus. There are terms to be worked out.

There are also no early fears of holdouts, as players generally have taken part in their first team workouts. Robinson, for example, sweated it out with the Rams.

For now, it appears Robinson's biggest concern is learning a new position. An All-American tackle at Auburn, he is being slotted at left guard to begin his NFL career. He'll return to tackle at some point, but for now it's an assignment that requires time.

It's a similar story for most of the rest of the unsigned. There's no real rush and little worry about holdouts.

IF FITZ FITS

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a journeyman quarterback, just good enough to be a backup. So what are his chances with the Houston Texans?

Actually, according to Greg Cosell, an NFL Films observer, pretty good.

"It wouldn't surprise me if Fitzpatrick has his best year in the NFL [in 2014]," Cosell said.

Case Keenum and T.J. Yates are back and have experience as starters. Tom Savage got a lot of draft buzz. But if just could be new coach Bill O'Brien has keen interest in a move veteran QB as summer progresses.

"It wouldn't surprise me if Fitzpatrick has his best year in the NFL. We're not suggesting he's a top five quarterback but I think he's got some tools. I think he's a smart kid, he's got some movement to him," Cosell said recently on Nashville radio station WGFX-FM.

Considering he has 77 starts on his resume, that's a bold statement. Fitzpatrick gave the Buffalo Bills a glimmer of hope as full-time starter for two seasons. He made nine starts last season for the Tennessee Titans and previous played for the St. Louis Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.

Experience, it seems, helped.

"We really liked his intelligence," O'Brien told ESPN on Friday. "We liked the fact that he had played a bunch of football. We liked that he played football in a similar system relative to Chan Gailey's system in Buffalo. We liked the fact that he was a guy who we thought would be a good system fit meaning he was an intelligent guy, a good leader, a guy who was an accurate passer. We felt like what was best for the Houston Texans was to find a good fit at quarterback for our system."

If nothing else, O'Brien has issued a challenge to Keenum and Yates, holdovers on the Texans rosters. New to the job, he is making sure his players take nothing for granted.

Contributing: Ray Slover, The Associated Press

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Sporting News Editorial Team