This article will rub some Bills fans the wrong way after many have relegated themselves to the fact that the team will use their No. 8 overall pick on either Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib or USC quarterback Matt Barkley. However, the Bills need to find a quarterback that can bring hope and energy back into a fanbase that has been in dire need of a franchise signal caller for over a decade.
While Nassib and Barkley appear to be “safer” picks, as both have experience in the West Coast Offense the Bills appear to be installing, Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel should be the pick.
No quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft class has more upside than Florida State signal-caller E.J. Manuel. His rare blend of size, athleticism and arm strength makes him one of the more intriguing quarterback prospects in a class filled with question marks.
Manuel has an extremely strong arm, but has the ability to put touch on deep passes. He displays a quick release and zips the ball with incredible velocity. Manuel proved to be efficient, completing 66.9% of his passes for 7,741 yards while throwing 47 touchdowns to 28 interceptions in his four seasons with the Seminoles; two of which he was the starter.
Manuel didn’t have much assistance on his offensive line, and was always under pressure. He showed excellent toughness by standing tall in the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield and delivering strikes with defenders in his face. Manuel can make every throw and displays beautiful ball placement, especially on deep passes.
At 6’5” and weighing 240 pounds Manuel is a passer first, but he’s a threat to take off and run the ball to gain chunks of yards. He doesn’t have the speed of Robert Griffin III, but he’s a big, powerful man that can move the chains with his legs.
While using a top 10 pick on a player that is widely viewed as a “boom-or-bust” prospect would be considered blasphemy to most, it’s time for the Bills to roll the dice.
In a copy-cat league, you can be sure that more and more teams are going to be installing versions of the read-option after players like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III took the National Football League by storm.
While the offense may not be for every team, it will definitely be a wrinkle in nearly every playbook across the league.
One thing you must keep in mind when thinking about the read-option quarterbacks, is that these guys can pass just as effectively as they can run. Manuel has the ability to stand in the pocket and make throws when he needs to, so it’s hard to label him a “scrambling” quarterback, a la Michael Vick.
Fans would rage about taking Manuel with the eighth pick, because he’s a raw prospect. However, the Bills brought in veteran Kevin Kolb to compete with the rookie quarterback and Tarvaris Jackson. Manuel has the potential to become a great quarterback in the league, but it would be a tough sell for Buddy Nix and Russ Brandon.
However, you can look back to when the San Francisco 49ers selected Colin Kaepernick in 2011 for a prime example of what the Bills could and should do. Jim Harbaugh knew he had a moldable quarterback that maybe wasn’t ready to start year one, but with a year of mastering the offense, Kaepernick would be ready to go within a year.
This is what I think is best for Manuel. While Manuel very well could beat out both Kolb and Jackson in training camp, if he doesn’t it wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen. Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback in the National Football League, a first round draft pick, sat on the bench for three years before dominating nearly every team that he faced.
The 2013 crop of quarterbacks has so many question marks, that no pick will be the right pick. E.J. Manuel presents the most upside of any passer in the draft and they can’t afford to miss out.