Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 28th round of the Major League Baseball first-year player 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 in May.
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.
In May, 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.
RAMS: Michael Sam is confident he’ll be judged on performance.
The first openly gay player drafted in the NFL said there have been no issues fitting in with his St. Louis Rams teammates, no awkward moments in the locker room and that he was accepted right away.
“They respect me as a human being,” he said. “And as a football player.”
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers said Sam was asked to stand up and tell a joke on Friday. The verdict: “Totally funny.”
“We don’t really focus on the outside stuff,” Brockers added. “He’s our brother, he’s on our D-line and that’s where it sits.”
The Rams will give Sam every chance to succeed. But like any seventh-round pick, it’s an uphill battle.
“It’s faster, you’ve got to learn a lot more plays, you’ve got to know what you’re doing,” Sam said after a session.
“You’re supposed to perform at a high level and I’m doing pretty good.”
Sam got a lot of snaps at left end with the second team defense, moving up on the depth chart because veteran William Hayes is rehabbing from an injury. He’s been getting a lot of work on special teams, where the Rams might break him in.
The Rams had one of the top pass rushes in the NFL last year with ends Robert Quinn, second in the NFL in sacks, and Chris Long both former first-round picks. So are tackles Brockers and rookie Aaron Donald, plus Kendall Langford was a major free agent pickup a year ago.
“I’m telling you, they get after it,” Sam said. “I thought our D-line at Mizzou was pretty tough. This is a whole new level.”
Everyone, Sam said, has been willing to help. Nobody, Long said, gives a hoot about the fact he’s gay.
“Only the media cares,” Long said. “The players don’t care, we just care about what kind of football player you are.
“We got a steal in whatever round we took him in.”
Players picked way ahead of him don’t seem to mind that Sam’s getting more attention.
“He’s a cool guy,” Donald said. “We get along well and we’re trying to get ready for the season together.”
The 260-pound Sam was the SEC co-defensive player of the year last season. After the Rams took him with the 249th overall pick late in the seventh round, general manager Les Snead called him a designated pass rusher.
Sam said he’s probably going to have to shed some weight to be effective on special teams.
Among the early goals for the Rams (7-9) is getting Greg Robinson, the second overall pick, accustomed to a new position. Robinson was a tackle at Auburn and the Rams have him at guard.
“I can get my hands on them faster, so it’s something I think I can grow into,” Robinson said. “But I’m a little rusty. It’s been a while since I played guard.”
Veterans were challenged, too, by new wrinkles in the playbook.
“Just knocking the rust off, I think, is the biggest thing,” Brockers said. “Like coach Fisher said, we’re not going to win the division in these next few OTAs.”
Julian Edelman had to learn to catch the ball instead of throw it when the New England Patriots drafted the Kent State quarterback.
Five years later, the lessons continue.
Besides refining his own techniques, the Patriots’ most productive pass-catcher is getting used to a new veteran wide receiver for the second straight offseason, Brandon LaFell.
“When you’re clicking, you’re not making mental mistakes. You’re going out there. You’re lining up fast,” Edelman said. “Every day’s an experience and I have to work on what I have to do and guys have to work on what they have to do.”
A breakout season with 105 catches? A new four-year, $17 million contract?
Edelman said none of that diminishes his drive to do everything correctly and not make the same mistake twice, lest coach Bill Belichick sharply call his attention to it.