E.J. Manuel Is Developmental, but Could Start Week 1

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IApril 26, 2013

Apr 26, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone (left), first round draft pick quarterback E.J. Manuel (middle) and general manager Buddy Nix pose for a photo at the press conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills were targeting a quarterback, but they didn't want to pick one in the top 10.

It could have been West Virginia's Geno Smith or Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, but the Bills went with Florida State's E.J. Manuel with the 16th overall pick in the draft, making him the first quarterback off the board.

With Kevin Kolb on the roster, the Bills could make Manuel the quarterback of the future to develop over the next year or two. 

That doesn't have to be the case.

We've seen over the past two years that NFL teams are willing to move mountains to make life easier for their young quarterback. Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson were all considered developmental prospects coming out of college, but all three went on to be highly productive for their respective teams immediately upon taking the reins as the starter.

Kaepernick was the only one of those who was afforded any kind of opportunity to learn on the bench.

Manuel is a physical prospect, to say the least. At 6'5" and 237 pounds, there's little concern about his ability to take a beating if he is asked to run the ball with any frequency. He ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash and ranked in the top five in the vertical and broad jump, all three of which serve as proof of his athletic ability and explosiveness.

He'll have a chance to put all that on display—early and often—in Doug Marrone's offense, which consisted of some zone-read concepts over the past couple of years.

The question is whether he can handle the speed of the NFL game. He did not have a lot of responsibilities in Florida State and was primarily a one-read quarterback. He has solid arm strength to make all the throws, but there are questions about his accuracy, as well. He will need to improve his overall accuracy, both on short and deep throws.

There will probably be an open competition for the starting job in training camp, and Manuel may not earn the job right away. If he does, though, there's no reason he can't be effective. 


Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.comFollow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from Pro Football Focus, and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.