Bills 2013 Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
After trading out of their original pick at No. 8 overall, the towering Florida State signal-caller was chosen with the No. 16 selection.
Here, I've analyzed the Manuel selection for Doug Marrone's club and have given it an overall grade.
Round 1, Pick 16: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
After the Bills moved out of the No. 8 spot in a trade with St. Louis Rams, they had their pick of the quarterback litter at No. 16 overall and selected Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel.
It came as a major surprise to many, but Doug Marrone and Buffalo's front office decided to pass on Syracuse's late-riser Ryan Nassib, USC's leader Matt Barkley and WVU's gun-slinger Geno Smith.
With Manuel, it's all about his potential.
At 6'5'' and 237 pounds, this former Seminoles signal-caller has an exceptionally strong arm and remarkable athleticism to scramble outside the pocket.
He struggled with accuracy and decision-making in college, but there's no doubting that, in theory, he could be molded into a special dual-threat quarterback.
(Yes, he has read-option experience.)
Remember, Marrone and offensive coordinator Nate Hackett did a fine job developing Nassib into solid prospect while at Syracuse.
The Manuel selection was likely made with the long-term future in mind, especially with Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson already on the roster—there's no need to force the rookie into the starting lineup in 2013.
One has to expect Marrone knew Nassib better than anyone in this draft process, and with every top signal-caller on the board, the Bills chose Manuel.
That speaks volumes.
Round 2, Pick 41: Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Bills needed to add talent to their receiving corps, and they couldn't pass up Robert Woods from USC.
While he wouldn't be classified as a wideout who will win jump balls with size and leaping ability alone, Woods fights for every contested pass thrown his way and displayed strong hands in college.
He ran a 4.51 at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and exhibited above-average quickness and burst during in SoCal.
At 6'1'' and 201 pounds, he has prototypical outside receiver size and his refined route-running is probably his greatest strength.
With the larger Justin Hunter off the board, Buffalo picked a player who accumulated 250 receptions and more than 2,900 yards in three seasons with the Trojans.
A "down" year in 2012—74 receptions, 849 yards and 11 touchdowns—was likely the reasoning behind the decline in his draft stock, but the Bills addressed a major need with a complete, NFL-ready wideout to alleviate pressure from Stevie Johnson and provide E.J. Manuel a youthful weapon.
Round 2, Pick 46 (Trade with St. Louis Rams): Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon
After LSU linebacker Kevin Minter went to the Arizona Cardinals at pick No. 45, and with Arthur Brown still on the board, the Bills grabbed Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Two alcohol-related incidents and a torn ACL he suffered in 2010 are the major concerns with this former Duck, but when he's on the field, there's no denying his impactful nature.
Alonso's size—6'3'' and nearly 240 pounds, along with his athletic talents, make him a versatile defender who could fit into a variety of positions in a 4-3 or 3-4 alignment.
With Mike Pettine installing a hybrid defense, Alonso appears to be a valuable asset.
In 2012, he totaled 81 tackles, 14 of which came behind the line of scrimmage, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.
He isn't spectacular in any one area, but he's known for his hitting ability, stoutness against the run and comfort in coverage. If Alonso's injuries are behind him and he has matured, the Bills landed a fierce, relatively rangy linebacker.
However, his somewhat troubled past is a bit unsettling.
Round 3, Pick 78: Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Buffalo isn't being timid about surrounding E.J. Manuel with offensive skill-position players.
Marquise Goodwin is an Olympic track athlete who doubled as a football player at Texas, and his blistering time of 4.27 was the fastest of any prospect at this year's combine.
With West Coast principles in mind, the Bills nabbed an offensive playmaker with world-class speed and electric yards-after-the-catch capability.
At 5'8'' and 183 pounds, Goodwin is best suited for the slot, and he'll likely be utilized on jet sweeps, reverses and in read-option wrinkles.
There were other small and fast wideouts available—none more dynamic or nimbler than Goodwin.
Round 4, Pick 105: Duke Williams, S, Nevada
Although former cornerback Aaron Williams has been moved to safety, the Bills still addressed the last line of defense in Round 4 with Duke Williams.
This former Nevada standout makes his presence felt with an aggressive, hard-hitting style of play, and his track background helps him close across the field in coverage.
At 6'0'' and 190 pounds, Williams is the largest strong safety, but he certainly isn't afraid to throw his body around.
Despite being known for his monster hits, he's a relatively sure tackler.
However, he can get over-aggressive, especially on play-action passes.
With Jairus Byrd playing likely to play on a one-year franchise tag and two relatively unproven players behind him in Williams and Da'Norris Searcy, it should come as no surprise that Mike Pettine wanted to add an assertive safety to his secondary.
Round 5, Pick 143: Jonathan Meeks, S, Clemson
Jonathan Meeks is the newest member of the Buffalo Bills secondary and is the second safety prospect taken by the team in the 2013 NFL draft.
While at Clemson, Meeks intercepted seven passes and had a total of 159 tackles.
At 6'1' and 209 pounds, he has prototypical size and projects to the strong safety spot. His game is well-rounded, but it lacks consistency, especially in coverage.
At this juncture, the Bills were likely looking to select another defensive back—with the nickel package as the base defense—and a player who can contribute on special teams.
Addressing the interior of the offensive line was another possibility, but Buffalo stayed focused on adding depth to its defensive backfield.
Round 6, Pick 177: Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State
With plenty of perceived talent on the board, the Buffalo Bills selected kicker Dustin Hopkins of Florida State.
To many, Hopkins is the best kicker in the 2013 class after he pieced together a second-team All-American season with the Seminoles.
He has a booming leg and finished his collegiate career with a 78.6 percent make rate on field goals. In 2012, he only missed one extra point.
I feel as though solid kickers can always be found after the draft, but the Bills grabbed the cream of the crop—a mild consolation.
With 36-year-old Rian Lindell—someone who doesn't have the strongest leg anymore—representing a $3 million cap hit in 2013 and 2014, in all likelihood, Hopkins will seriously compete in training camp to be the team's starting kicker on field goals and kickoffs.
Round 7, Pick 222: Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas
With their final selection in the 2013 NFL draft, the Buffalo Bills selected tight end Chris Gragg from Arkansas.
The former Razorbacks star exudes athleticism—he ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap of 37.5 inches at this year's combine at 6'3'' and 244 pounds.
Gragg basically has no blocking experience and doesn't possesses the size and strength to become an in-line blocker in the NFL, but he was drafted due to his seam-stretching prowess and receiver-like abilities after the catch.
However, he was riddled with injuries in college, and his 2012 campaign was cut short due to a knee injury.
Gragg is the epitome of solid flier pick in the seventh round.