Cleveland Browns 2013 NFL Draft: Grading E.J. Manuel's Game
Manuel, who started 31 games during his time at FSU, is a prototypical "new age" NFL quarterback.
Blessed with a rocket launcher for an arm and great athleticism, Manuel's draft stock has been sky rocketing over the last few weeks.
The question now becomes, with needs at cornerback, wide receiver and inside linebacker, is it worth the risk for the Browns to select a quarterback? Especially one who is considered to be more of an athlete playing quarterback than a quarterback who's athletic.
In order to best answer that question, you need to first grade every aspect of his game. Start the slideshow below to find out the strengths and weaknesses of E.J. Manuel.
For all of the negative aspects of Manuel's game, one part of it that can't be questioned is his intangibles.
An incredibly tough player, Manuel has shown that he can play through injuries and always puts the team above himself. Possessing the desire to play hard on every snap and win football games is a crucial trait to have if you want to excel at the next level.
Inspirational is another word that can be used when you are describing this kid's character.
He brings the best out of his teammates and he has always worked tirelessly to better himself and the team.
A high character kid with a burning passion for football, the intangibles of Manuel are second to none.
Blessed with a buttery smooth overhand delivery, and a lighting quick release, E.J. Manuel's mechanics aren't too shabby.
While he needs to keep working on his footwork inside of the pocket, Manuel is extremely polished when he manages to get outside of it. His ability to change the angle of his arm when releasing the football on the run is a trait that may be able to help him tremendously at the next level.
If he continues to improve his footwork and drop backs, Manuel should be able to build on an already solid foundation mechanically— a foundation that should help him become an effective passer in the NFL.
Standing at 6'5", weighing 237 pounds, Manuel is a very large, and physically imposing kid.
Being almost a mirror image of Cam Newton, you have to be impressed when you watch Manuel on the field from a sheer size standpoint.
A strong, athletic quarterback, the physical tools Manuel has been blessed with really complement his style of play.
In other words, his body type fits his game to a T.
In this new age of dual-threat NFL quarterbacks with speed, size and athletic ability, Manuel stands out amongst this current QB class.
All you have to do is watch him play once, and you'll understand just how tremendous of an athlete Manuel really is.
Fast, strong, with a commanding presence on the field, Manuel is the perfect mold for a modern day read-option quarterback. Athletically this kid is the real deal.
He has that Cam Newton way about his game, that runaway freight train mentality.
Having that ability to run hard and make defenses game plan for you outside of just your arm is something the Browns would love to have in their backfield.
Needless to say, a Trent Richardson and E.J. Manuel ground attack could be incredibly hard to stop on Sundays.
Outside of his athletic ability, the highlight of Manuel's game on tape is his supreme arm strength.
While his deep ball might be erratic at times, there is no doubting this kid's ability to unleash one downfield in a hurry.
Sporting a super-tight spiral, and one of the stronger arms in this draft class, the Browns have to like what they see when they watch Manuel fire lasers all over the field.
One part of Manuel's game that worries scouts, is that he doesn't posses that NFL quarterback "sixth sense" when it comes to gauging pressure.
Although, he's decisive when he wants to run with the pigskin, sometimes Manuel will take off, rather than go through his progressions. He also tends to struggle when it comes to feeling the rush from opposing defenses.
While Manuel does have the ability to escape from the deathly grips of hungry defenders due to his athletic ability, at the pro level that task will be a lot more difficult to achieve on a regular basis.
Pocket presence is an area that needs to improve if he hopes to find success in the NFL.
During his time at Florida State, Manuel played in a pretty simple offensive system.
Centered on a lot of Shotgun formations, options and dump offs, Manuel established himself as an accurate short-range passer.
It's when you move on to the medium and deep stuff, that's where he sometimes gets into trouble. Thanks to large hands, Manuel does have the ability to zip balls into tight windows—which helps his cause, but more times than not, he tends to miss long.
All in all, Manuel's accuracy definitely needs improvement. Especially when it comes to his deep ball, which should be a lot better considering how strong of an arm he possesses.
But, more than anything, Manuel needs to improve his consistency when it comes to throwing the football.
If he can do that, down the road he could end up becoming an accurate quarterback.
Ability to Learn
Another enticing aspect about Manuel's game is how smart he is.
If the Browns were to select him in this weekend's draft, they would have to come to terms with the fact that he needs a lot of time to develop into a dynamic, franchise caliber quarterback.
Head coach Rob Chudzinski has been labeled a "quarterback guru", which means he can turn your average quarterback into a Pro Bowl candidate (see Derek Anderson). With a great work ethic and a true willingness to learn, Manuel would be a welcomed addition to the Browns roster if they choose to draft him.
Look, we all know there is a major difference between film sessions and decision making on game day, but overall wouldn't you rather select a kid who is sharp and always trying to improve his game over one that thinks he has it all?
When you break it down, Manuel may have the highest ceiling of any quarterback prospect in this draft. That combination of raw athleticism, smarts and a rocket arm makes him a tremendously intriguing prospect.
If the Browns really do like what they see and want to take a chance on a kid who can potentially become the centerpiece of their offense, Manuel might just be the guy.
Unlike a Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib, Manuel possesses a unique range of skills that makes him stand out as more than just a game manager.
He shows up in big games, plays hard and puts his team and winning above everything else.
Does he have areas of his game that he needs to improve on? Of course, but that's all part of the process.
With a ton of quality prospects in this draft, Manuel would be an interesting choice for the Browns at six or even higher if they choose to trade down.