EJ Manuel was the guy the Bills wanted and he’s the guy the Bills got. He just happened to go about 10-20 picks higher than most expected.
In a draft with loads of depth but short on top-end talent, there was no guarantee where the first quarterback would be taken or who that quarterback would be. Different pundits pointed in four different directions as to which team would be selecting a quarterback and which quarterback would be the first off the board. Funny enough, no one was able to hit the nail on the head (except for Joe Buscaglia).
Sitting with the eighth pick and what now appears to be a draft board whose top-ranked player was somewhat undeserving of the eighth overall selection, the Bills wisely moved back, added another valuable pick and still put themselves in a position to take their quarterback.
Buddy Nix, Doug Whaley and company deserve credit for adding another second round pick while only retreating eight selections in the first round (and another seven in the third). All the while, the player they were targeting the entire time stuck around for them at 16.
Truthfully the only issue anyone has had with the choice is that Manuel was expected to be a better fit lower in the first round or even early in the second. There’s little doubt about his overall talent, just misgivings about the pick with which he was selected.
After having a night to digest everything, the only thing that matters is that the Bills got the player they wanted while adding an additional pick to stock the cupboards with. As pointless as draft grades are, the Bills deserve a pass for their maneuvering last night.
This logic can be assigned to any player they would have decided to take at 16. If Jarvis Jones, Xavier Rhodes or Cordalle Patterson sat atop the Bills’ board and the team managed to get their guy while adding another quality pick the story would be the same. The general train of thought is that 16 was a reach for Manuel. But if that’s the player the Bills wanted then there is no such thing as a reach in their book.
As a quarterback, Manuel is probably the best fit for the Bills and what they’re expected to do schematically. He’s a big body with excellent mobility and experience running the read-option attack. He also has a big arm which he showed off throughout his college career – although the Noles used far more short and intermediate routes in their attack. With a strong arm and high measurables it is easy to see why the Bills were enamored with his talent and upside. He’s smart too, which might be the most important part.
The main detraction against him is that FSU had him use simple reads and that he didn’t need to break down the entire defense prior to the snap. This is certainly something that can be taught to him, but it will certainly be a big part of his learning curve. Knowing that he goes to class (my buddy works at FSU) and that his intelligence is for real makes me comfortable that he’s very coachable. That gives me some relief when thinking about him learning to read and diagnose NFL defenses.
Another thing that many FSU fans will point to are his inconsistencies.
I noticed that when things go bad for Manuel, they go bad. It may just be a desire to win and succeed, but in games when he and his team are struggling, the mistakes seem to mount. Typically it is due to forced passes or simply pushing too hard. I might describe that as a mental hurdle but that may not the be the most accurate way to categorize that side of his game.
I’m an avid Florida State fan and I regularly read Tomahawk Nation. They had this to say about where Manuel projects as a professional prospect prior to the draft.
I think that I like the long-term prospects of selecting Manuel. He has crazy amounts of upside and is supremely talented. Frankly, I like him better than Ryan Nassib as an all-around quarterback. Going off that feeling, I’m very comfortable knowing that he will be working with Marrone and Hackett to grow his game.