One of three quarterbacks vying for the top spot along with former UCF QB Blake Bortles and former Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, Manziel made his case to the media on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Manziel clearly was trying to back away from the Johnny Football reputation that has been so scrutinized.
"Johnny Manziel is a guy, I’m from a small town of Kerrville, Texas, 20,000 people," he told an overflowing contingent of media members, the largest of any press conference at Lucas Oil Stadium. "[That] gets lost in kind of the people who make me out to be a big Hollywood guy, really [I'm] just still a small-town kid. Sometimes you get caught up in certain things, but at the same time continuing to learn and continuing to adapt to everything that’s going on in my life. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but continuing to be who I’ve always been is a big thing for me."
Manziel made a strong pitch for being the first player off the draft board in May and remaining in his home state of Texas.
"I think it would be extremely cool," he said. "I’m a Texas guy, born and raised in Texas. I’ve never really left the state. For them to have the first pick means a lot to me."
Manziel says he has gotten to know Bortles here at the Combine.
"Got a chance to know Teddy Bridgewater over the past, Elite 11 last year, came out to San Diego for a couple days. I really enjoy being around him," Manziel said. "Me and him have a fun-natured relationship. I think he’s a heckuva player, I really enjoyed watching his games this year. And Blake, a guy I’ve gotten to know within the past few days, got to see a couple of his games this year. I think he’s an extremely talented kid and look forward to spending more time with him."