EJ Manuel Starting in Week 1 for Buffalo Bills Is Best-Case Scenario

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY - MAY 10:  EJ Manuel #3 of the Buffalo Bills  readies to pass during the Buffalo Bills rookie camp on May 10, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. Manuel was Buffalo's first round draft pick in 2013.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have faced serious turmoil this offseason at the quarterback position, but rookie EJ Manuel starting in Week 1 is the best-case scenario for the franchise moving forward.

Buffalo had started with a clean slate this offseason by hiring new head coach Doug Marrone, and one of the first moves the Bills made was signing Kevin Kolb as a free agent.

With the news that Kolb may have suffered a career-ending concussion Saturday against the Washington Redskins, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bills made a quick move to add two more veterans in Matt Leinart and Thaddeus Lewis, per Tom Pelissero of the USA Today.

Leinart and Lewis can battle for the No. 2 job, but as long as Manuel comes back by Week 1 from the knee injury that will keep him out of the rest of the preseason, per BuffaloBills.com, the No. 16 pick in the first round of the 2013 draft should be the starting QB.

Marrone has the chance to start off his tenure in Buffalo with a rookie under center and build a legacy together. While Manuel didn’t look great in practice before he was injured, the investment of a first-round pick should warrant the franchise giving the first-year player the benefit of the doubt.

Even if Kolb was healthy, Marrone should have tried to ride the player he helped decide would be the face of the franchise instead of a player that hasn’t proven his worth at the NFL level yet.

Manuel could be a bust just like Kolb, but the Bills won't know unless he gets the proper time to start.

Kolb’s injury has almost guaranteed that as long as Manuel is healthy, he will get the starting job. While this isn’t how the franchise wanted it to happen, there is no question that Buffalo should want to see the 2013 first-round pick pay immediate dividends.

While a veteran like Kolb has more experience at the NFL level, the raw talent that Manuel possesses far exceeds anyone else on the roster.

Not only did the former Florida State star put up legendary numbers at his former college (3,392 passing yards and 23 touchdowns in 2012), but his size (6’5” and 240 pounds) and natural speed and elusiveness will also make him one of the most dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks in the league.

Manuel showed his speed outside the pocket in college, rushing for 310 yards and adding four touchdowns on the ground last year. While there is no comparing an NFL defense to the kind found in the ACC, it is the rookie’s ability to scramble and find the open receiver that will make him valuable as the long-term starter for the Bills.

If the offensive line can keep Manuel out of trouble and give him the space he needs to make plays happen, there is no doubt that the most athletic and talented quarterback on the roster should be the starter in Week 1 if he’s healthy enough to play.