In keeping with the log jam of quarterback’s competing for the honour of being this year’s second best in the draft today’s preview will center around E.J. Manuel. As far as polarizing prospects go, only Matt Barkley causes more of a stir than Manuel. Ask five people what they think of Manuel’s chance of success is at the next level and odds are you’ll get five different answers.
The reason for such skepticism surrounding his draft stock and future in the NFL, believe it or not, has to do with his consistency. On one play he’ll evade four defenders, break a tackle or two and find a receiver downfield for a touchdown. It’s a Ben Roethlisberger impersonation for the ages. In that same game you’ll find him listening to the devil on the other shoulder, convincing him he can fit a ball into double coverage on the run. At best those passes are incomplete.
There’s more to E.J. Manuel than inconsistencies though, and I’d be remiss of my duties to not bring this up. The more admirable parts of Manuel’s game have to be his toughness and speed. Also very Roethlisberger-esque, but now I’m sounding like a broken record. In all seriousness though, this kid took a lot of hits running the Florida State offense and bounced right back up from nearly all of them.
Another thing worth noting with Manuel is that he is probably better suited than any other quarterback in this year’s draft class to run the ever so popular read-option. It’s a copycat league, and with last year’s draft class proving the read-option can not only work, but be extremely successful in the NFL, teams looking to replicate that success might turn to Manuel.
- Has great arm strength and a willingness to show it off.
- Is extremely elusive and is pretty fast to boot.
- Has great pocket presence.
- Can squeeze the ball into very small windows.
- Has a very quick release.
- What little room that is left for improvement with regards to his speed is made up for his physicality.
The Not so Goods
- Struggles with consistency.
- Has poor mechanics, especially where his footwork is concerned.
- Makes some very questionable decisions.
- Takes a lot of unnecessary risks.
- Misses a lot of really easy throws.
- Often overthrows receivers on deep routes.
- Has a tendency to stare down his receivers.
- Overly confident in his ability to escape pressure.
The Verdict: There’s plenty to like about E.J. Manuel, but not nearly enough for me to consider him a viable starter in week 1. Against NFL defenses a lot of the plays Manuel was able to pull off in college just don’t happen. Seems obvious, but it’s even more true with regards to how Manuel plays. Could surprise me and become a starter, but I just don’t see it happening. I can almost guarantee it won’t on week 1 and definitely shouldn’t.
Where he should be drafted: In either the third or fourth round.
Where he will be drafted: Late second or third round.
Ideal fits: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle
Comparables: Ben Roethlisberger, Dennis Dixon
For Bryan Zarpentine’s take on E.J. Manuel
You can follow J.D. Burke @JDBurkeOV