Could Bucs and Lovie Smith target Johnny Manziel with 7th pick?

Could Johnny Manziel be a member of the Bucs by this time next month? (USATSI)
Could Johnny Manziel be a member of the Bucs by this time next month? (USATSI)

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Five of the top seven picks in next month's NFL Draft belong to teams that are in the market for franchise quarterbacks. It remains unclear where any of the big names -- Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr -- might end up, but new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith admits to being a huge Manziel fan.

The Bucs have the seventh overall pick in the draft, and Smith was on hand for Manziel's impressive pro day performance last month.

"I had time to watch quite a few games, and I had a chance to watch him -- a lot. So you add all that up," Smith said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "As far as how he'll take his game to the NFL level? I think most outstanding players in college, a lot of them, end up being a very good football player in the NFL. Football really is football. I know he's not your typical, prototype quarterback who drops back into the pocket, but there are a lot of quarterbacks doing well in the league that aren't your prototypical quarterback."

Would Smith and the Bucs draft a quarterback at No. 7 or is this just part of the pre-draft obfuscation that pervades the league in the weeks leading up to the NFL's biggest offseason spectacle?

Back in February, after quarterback Mike Glennon played well under trying circumstances during his rookie season, Smith admitted that quarterback was a first-round option.

"I know enough about that draft to know, yeah, there's someone that would be worthy of the seventh pick because everything is on the board right now," Smith said at the time. "Whenever you have a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you have to consider that."

Those sentiments apparently haven't changed, even after the team signed veteran Josh McCown and Smith announced that he would be the starter next season.

But the coach, who was out of football last season after a nine-year stint as the Bears coach, concedes that the time off gave him a fresh perspective on the job.

"I really enjoyed the time being a fan, watching our game, studying our game," he said. "Looking at different coaches. And then, everything I believe in, my core values and how I run a football team.

"I had a chance to analyze all of that, and the conclusion I came to is we're not going to make a lot of drastic changes on how I believe you treat people and how you win football games. But there are some things that we will do differently, and I guess you'll have to wait until we start playing games to see that."

For now, all we can do is speculate. According to the latest mock draft, the Bucs will take offensive tackle Greg Robinson, linebacker Khalil Mack or wide receiver Mike Evans.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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