We're passionate about the NFL Draft
by Dwayne Wilton
It’s no secret that this years’ crop of quarterbacks is not as strong previous years. In most years, a quarterback is the top overall pick. This year is different. There isn’t much that separates them. The rankings of this years’ crop is all over the board. Most people have Geno Smith rated as the best quarterback, but that can still change. Matt Barkley hasn’t even thrown a pass in a real game since November, but looked good at pro day on Wednesday.
A couple of weeks ago I was texting with fellow Draft Maniac Teddy Lopez. We were discussing E.J. Manuel and how much I like him as a quarterback. I wanted to get ahead of the curve and moved him to my #3 ranked QB, but later I found out Mike Mayock had beaten me to the punch. Curses!
The problem with this crop of signal callers is not talent. This is a very talented group. The issue with this group is consistency. I’ve heard several people say this group is the “Wow! What?” group. On one play they blow you away with a throw into tight coverage and on the next play you wonder what in the world they were thinking.
I believe that E.J. Manuel may have fewer flaws in his game than most of the QB’s in this class and he is extremely athletic. At 6′ 5” he has the height to see over the line and he has a nice overhand delivery and quick release. He also has a think body type that looks imposing when he scrambles out of the pocket and he is not shy about taking on a defender to get the first down. He has a strong arm that allows him to fit the ball into tight spots and also has the touch to drop the ball over a defender. Manuel has lots of big game experience and for the most part has done well in those games. In 2009, as a redshirt freshman, he was forced into the starting role when Christian Ponder was hurt and he led the team to a 3-1 record and was the MVP of the Gator Bowl. In 2010, he again was forced into the the game in the 2nd half of the Chick-fil-A bowl and rallied his team to victory. He won bowl games his last two years as a starter and is only the second quarterback in FBS history to go 4-0 in bowl games.
While Manuel is a physical specimen, he sometimes makes bad decisions and has poor technique. Manuel will sometimes use his big arm to force the ball into the wrong spot, resulting in an interception. He also doesn’t always get his feet set properly before delivering the ball, especially if he gets pressure up the middle. At times he holds the ball too long, but don’t people say the same thing about Ben Roethlisberger? I do, however, believe all these flaws can be fixed with coaching. I would rather have a quarterback with tons of talent that just needed to be coached up than a quarterback with limited talent.
In the end, I believe his size and arm strength make him one of the better quarterback prospects for this the 2013 draft. Sure he’s raw, but I believe with the right coaching he can be molded into a very good NFL quarterback. The NFL is evolving into a league that values mobile quarterbacks and that’s exactly what Manuel is.