The Buffalo Bills took the 2013 NFL Draft by storm when they selected QB E.J. Manuel with the No. 16 overall pick. The move caught many by surprise not because the former Florida State star signal-caller was considered a reach in the middle of the first round, but also because Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley and Geno Smith were still available. But the decision didn’t really catch me off guard.
Last week I mentioned that while Nassib was the “overwhelming favorite to compete for the starting job with Kevin Kolb this offseason, Manuel is arguably the next-best option at quarterback for this team through the draft.
“Buffalo is also among the four teams that Manuel has recently mentioned is really interested in him,” I added. ”Keep your eyes peeled on the Bills possibly moving down and pursuing a quarterback near the bottom of the first round.”
The Bills obviously ended up trading down from the No. 8 to No. 16 spot with the St. Louis Rams, who inevitably moved up to secure the very versatile and lethal Tavon Austin ahead of the he New York Jets.
While he may be a bit inconsistent and could use a little time to develop at the next level, Manuel has all of the tools for success. The physically-imposing product out of Florida State completed 263 of 387 passes for 3,397 yards with 21 TDs to 10 INTs and added 310 yards with four scores on the ground in 2012.
He possesses high character, a quick release and a plethora of arm strength, mobility, velocity, intelligence and toughness, as he played through his mom’s cancer treatments (which he kept under wraps for a large portion of the season) and a broken leg in the victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl.
There are usually at least three or four early-round prospects in each draft class than I can say ahead of time will undoubtedly have immense success at the next level and I can’t remember the last time I was wrong about one of them. That’s not to say that I can accurately project the whether each prospect will be a success—far from it—but I tend to hit the nail on the head when it comes to picking out a handful of guys that will be stars in the NFL. Manuel is among this year’s handful.
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter. Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!