TAMPA — What if he's there? What if they take him?
They would have to take him. No choice.
My notebook would give Johnny Manziel a standing ovation. It would be as if someone flipped the power switch on a new Bucs history. It would be electrifying. Start with the airport arrival and keep filming right through the lines at the ticket windows. Oh, and check the overnight arrest reports now and again ...
Yes, chances are slim. I can't see Manziel lasting long in the NFL draft, not until the seventh pick — the Bucs' pick. Manziel, boom-bust or no, can't possibly get past Cleveland at No. 4. I wouldn't be stunned if Houston, with the No. 1 pick, chose Johnny over Jadeveon Clowney.
Manziel is not worth the Bucs trading up to the top, or maybe even to jump ahead of Cleveland. That is, unless Lovie Smith and Bucs GM Jason Licht truly believe Johnny Be Good for the Bucs.
This is the wildest of wild cards.
I can't say I think Manziel is going to conquer the world. On the other hand, I don't see him as a complete flop. I'm willing to be taught a lesson by him that I'll never forget.
I've come a long way in that regard, slowly, reverse like. If Manziel is somehow there at 7, I think the Bucs have no choice.
Take him for no other reason than this:
What if he's ... great?
You take Johnny even if you have Josh McCown, because, well, you have Josh McCown. There's no future in that, but there might be some insurance, short term, to let Manziel work his way into a new kind of league.
You pick Johnny because all those yards against all those SEC teams, all that game against Nick Saban and Alabama, even the second time around, are too much to not take a chance on.
You take Johnny because of the juice he'll bring, he's just the jolt this football town needs.
You take Johnny even if he's a screwball. You take him because he's the one QB in this draft who, if he hits it just right, could become a revelation, a superstar.
Then again, he might not.
But can any team take that chance, any team with a need at quarterback? That's the doomsday scenario: You pass on Johnny and he haunts you all your days. I bet more than one NFL coach or GM is flop sweating in their sleep over that. Maybe not Lovie Smith and Jason Licht, but if Johnny is there at 7, I don't see any way around picking him.
And it's not just because I'd rather stand at the back of the daily media crush around Johnny than in the front of some offensive lineman the Bucs pick, though they need one.
So, what was your favorite block in the LSU game?
Yes, a receiver is a need, too, maybe even Johnny's old Texas A&M teammate, Mike Evans. I love Evans as a ball catcher, but if Johnny is there, you can't pass him up. You just can't.
Like I said, I arrived at that slowly, but I arrived. It was easier to pass off in the weeks leading to this draft. Only now we're here.
What if Johnny is still there?
If the Bucs even remotely believe that he has a chance ... they have to take him.
What if he's ... great?
Johnny Draft Pick, if he's there.