Johnny Manziel Selected No. 22 by Cleveland Browns

(Photo11: William Perlman, The Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo11: William Perlman, The Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports)

Johnny Football became Johnny Free Fall, and now he’s headed to Cleveland, where the Browns are well aware what awaits them in terms of attention and buzz.

After patiently waiting for nearly three hours, Johnny Manziel finally was selected by the Browns, who moved up four spots to take him with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL draft.

The Browns believe the hype surrounding Manziel and the issues outside the team will not be a problem.

“The shot in the arm that I would rather give this organization is in the fall,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said Thursday night. “We talked about that before. Talk is cheap. Hype is exactly that.”

The Browns made the deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, who received the 26th overall pick and a third-round selection from Cleveland.

It was the third trade in Thursday’s first round that involved the Browns, who began the night with two picks at Nos. 4 and 26. Cleveland traded the fourth pick to the Buffalo Bills, who moved up five slots to nab receiver Sammy Watkins.

The Browns also traded up one spot, from ninth to eighth in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, to pick cornerback Justin Gilbert with their first selection of the night.

“We took the opportunity to take the players that we had in the order we had them ranked,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said. “When the opportunity presented itself, we took those liberties.”

But those deals were overshadowed by Cleveland’s move to take Manziel, the polarizing 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback whose agonizing wait to be drafted created a stir on Twitter.

Even the NFL’s official Twitter account commented on Manziel’s nationally televised wait. After the Dallas Cowboys became the 16th team to pass on Manziel, the league tweeted: “#SadManziel???”

Manziel’s wait was the perfect fodder for social media, with the hashtag “BeforeManzielGetsDrafted” trending on Twitter.

The reaction in Cleveland was immediate.

Within 25 minutes of Manziel’s selection, the team had sold 200 new season tickets and had 300 renewed.

A team vice president tweeted that the phones were ringing off the hook, and another tweeted a photo of the Manziel jersey now available at the team shop.

Hot off the press! Head to the Browns Team Shop tomorrow @FEStadium — 11am-5pm #JohnnyCleveland #WelcomeToCleveland
– Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 9, 2014

“We’re thrilled that the city of Cleveland is abuzz about football,” Pettine said. “We want that feeling to persist and we want it to go deep into the fall.”

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Pat McManamon

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