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2014 NFL Draft Rumors: Fourth report ties Johnny Manziel to the Buccaneers

We now have four reports linking Johnny Manziel to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Is it time to start taking them seriously?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Werder of ESPN reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers "would seriously consider" Johnny Manziel if he fell to them with the seventh overall pick. Yes, I know we ran a piece on a Johnny-Manziel-to-Bucs-report just yesterday, but that was a different report. In fact, this latest Ed Werder report is now the fourth report linking Johnny Manziel to Tampa Bay, with earlier reports saying that they "love" Manzieltwice.

The Bucs themselves haven't been shy about their love for Manziel, either. Lovie Smith praised Manziel at the owner's meeting, albeit slightly indirectly. "I think there are mixed opinions on just about every player," Lovie said. "It’s kind of how you see him. As far as how he’ll take his game to the NFL level, most outstanding players in college, a lot of them, wind up being very good football players in the NFL. Football really is football. A lot of the things he’s done, I know he’s not your typical prototype quarterback, drop back into the pocket, but there are a lot of quarterbacks that aren’t your prototypical quarterback."

That's not effusive praise, exactly, but it's fairly positive when Smith could simply have declined to talk about him. It's certainly enough to reinforce the four reports that the Bucs are interested in Johnny Manziel. They've also brought Manziel in for a visit, as they have with several other quarterbacks.

These reports allow for two interpretations. Pick the one that affirms your preferred view of the Bucs and/or Johnny Manziel.

1) They're actively and widely leaking that they like Johnny Manziel in an effort to deflect attention away from players they really want.

2) They actually want Johnny Manziel, and this is coming out through various channels because the interest is so well-known and widespread that it's impossible to keep quiet.

Both scenarios have happened in the past. No one knew the Bucs wanted Mark Barron when they drafted him, with everyone convinced that Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson were their top targets in 2012. But the Bucs' interest in Johnthan Banks, Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David was very well-known well in advance of the draft -- and they still made those picks.

I have no way of discerning fact from fiction in this case, and I'm not even going to try. I don't advise you to spend too much time on figuring this stuff out, either. We don't know the truth, and we really won't know it until the Bucs make their first-round selection.