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Projecting E.J. Manuel's Rookie Season with Buffalo Bills

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25:  E.J. Manuel of the Florida State Seminoles stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) as they hold up a jersey on stage after Manuel was picked #16 overall by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2013

The Buffalo Bills went all in on E.J. Manuel in the first round and now fans wonder if those chips will be cashed in 2013. 

From measureables alone, it’s hard to see why Manuel couldn’t start from the get-go.

At 6’5” and 240 pounds while running a 4.65 time in the 40-yard dash, he has all of the physical capabilities to throttle defenses with his dual-threat ability.

There’s no doubt the Bills’ first-round selection will get a chance to win the job in training camp.

Even so, don’t expect the Bills’ quarterback of the future to be thrown into the fire immediately.

Manuel will be charged with having to learn head coach Doug Marrone’s nuanced hurry-up system, a heavy load for a rookie quarterback to master in mere months.

While Buffalo’s new coaching staff can tailor the system to Manuel’s comprehension level and add new plays along the way, a conservative approach would be a smarter transition.

No first-rounder is perfect, but Manuel did have some concerns in his college career that would suggest a waiting period before his first start.

For one, he had a tendency to pull down the football when the pocket collapsed and look for running lanes. That won’t work in the pro game. Manuel will need to stand strong in the pocket and deliver uncomfortable throws at times.

CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman contributed his thoughts on Twitter about Manuel’s current makeup:

Coach Marrone and Co. will likely bring Manuel along slowly, potentially utilizing his athletic ability in special packages.

Manuel and C.J. Spiller in the backfield running a read-option play package, for example, would be tantalizing. And then one snap later, Manuel could fake the run and throw the ball downfield. Those little wrinkles will keep Buffalo’s opponents off balance next season.

But that’s all Bills fans will see of Manuel.

Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson’s presence may be a mere stopgap option, but it will give their rookie an opportunity to learn and prepare for his big debut.

Colin Kaepernick, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo: These three quarterbacks more than benefited from not being rushed onto the field.

With a patient outlook and given opportunity to develop, Manuel could surely end up in that esteemed group.  

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