E.J. Manuel Selected No. 16 by Buffalo Bills
Surprise! The first quarterback off the board at the 2013 NFL Draft is E.J. Manuel, Florida State’s big 6-foot-4 passer.
Buffalo moved down to 16 from its spot at No. 8 overall, as St. Louis jumped up to take Tavon Austin. The Bills were thought to be a natural landing spot for a QB, either at eight or lower — they cut bait on Ryan Fitzpatrick, added Kevin Kolb and GM Buddy Nix said that “now is the time” to pick up a young quarterback in the draft.
That it was Manuel and not Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib or even Matt Barkley makes this selection one of the legitimately stunning ones of the draft’s early process. Nassib looked like he might be the guy for Buffalo, having succeeded under new Bills head coach Doug Marrone at Syracuse.
What is Buffalo getting here? Honestly, I’m not sure anyone can answer that question. We know that Manuel is a good athlete with a great build, and he improved as a passer during his Florida State career. But he also had at least a couple plays a game that left you scratching your head and was not nearly as comfortable in the pocket as someone with his athleticism should have been.
This pick hints that Marrone plans to open the playbook a bit. He may not, however, be able to count on Manuel taking the reins right away.
Grade: D-plus. If Manuel ever plays like he should — as in, like a player with his physical gifts ought to be able to — then Buffalo might make a fool of everyone here. But it’s a shot in the dark by the Bills, with the hope that Manuel flips the switch at some point. He’ll need time to develop … and a few QBs taken lower could lap him by the time he’s ready to go.