"I'm a rookie coming in, low guy on the totem pole," Manziel said Friday at his introductory news conference at the Browns' facility. "I need to show these guys with actions to earn their respect."
As Manziel spoke, cornerback Justin Gilbert sat next to him. Gilbert was taken 14 picks ahead of Manziel but drew about one-fourteenth of the attention. He didn't mind, though, saying it took the pressure off him, and that when he heard the Browns had picked Manziel, he rolled down his car window and screamed.
"Who didn't follow him?" Gilbert said when asked whether he followed Manziel's career at Texas A&M.
Manziel shrugged it all off, saying he's now all about football and less about "Johnny Football." It's an image he's tried to refine as the draft approached, an image he said is not really him.
"I think I'm Johnny Manziel," he said. "Johnny Football is what I am in the media and I'm accepting of it, but at the same time I know who I am. It doesn't make me lose sleep at night."
Manziel said he's coming to Cleveland "with high goals but no expectations," and he knows what may await him in terms of attention and scrutiny.
"I don't think it could be more than what I have imagined in my head," Manziel said. "Going into it expecting madness. If it is, it is. If it's not, we'll deal with it."
Manziel is aware of the viral photo of the jersey with all 20 names of Browns starting quarterbacks since 1999. He also adeptly addressed a question about being the first quarterback shorter than 6 feet -- he's 5-foot-11¾ -- to be taken in the first round since 1953.
"I guess," he said, "you can measure height. You can't really measure heart."
Manziel's free fall Thursday night was one of the stories of the draft. The Browns chose to trade out of the fourth spot instead of taking him, then moved up for Gilbert and not Manziel.
When Dallas passed on Manziel at No. 16, teams moved to trade up and get him. The Browns trumped the other offers, including from Minnesota and Houston, to acquire Manziel at No. 22 for the 26th pick and a third-round selection.
Manziel is represented by LRMR, the marketing arm of the management firm run by LeBron James and three of his friends. Maverick Carter, James' longtime friend, represented the firm at the news conference.
Apparently, though, even Johnny Football has limits. Asked if he could persuade James to return to Cleveland, Manziel smiled and said: "I don't think I can do that."