The NFL Draft has its good moments. Kids who’ve worked incredibly hard for free in the gulag known as the NCAA are rewarded with guaranteed money and a chance to make a good living as a professional football player. Kids who’ve overcome family issues and “you’re too small!” epithets from bitter coaches can celebrate making it in front of the world. The night is for them.
For fans of certain teams, the draft is an excuse to lose it over players they’ve seen on Youtube a couple times. All caps non sequitur on twitter, angry texts to confused friends who don’t follow the NFL, a 1,000 word screed on a message board frequented by 13% of Western New York’s prison population — the gamut of negativity. As E.J. Manuel emotionally talked about his mom’s battle with cancer, I was one of those guys. The NFL Draft has its terrible moments. Mainly because of people like me. And this guy.
Buddy Nix went into last night with two goals. Correctly use his phone without disseminating team secrets and leave with a quarterback of the future. Depending on who you ask, he achieved both.
In the days leading up to the draft, Nix indicated he would be willing to trade down if the right offer presented itself. The Rams, enamored with Tavon Austin, offered picks 16 and 46 for the eighth pick, and the teams would also swap third round picks. The Bills made a good trade. Their fans were stunned.
At 16 the Bills would be able to get a quarterback without being accused of reaching. Ryan Nassib or Geno Smith. Choose one and go forward.
The positives: E.J. and CJ is a headline writer’s dream. Manuel will have a chip on his shoulder when he plays division rival Miami, who called him accidentally when they were trying to reach Dion Jordan. His personal story, one of hard work and battling through adversity fits well with Buffalo, a city that travel agents “accidentally” cover with their thumbs when showing clients a map of New York.
There are negatives. I watched two Florida State games last year. A loss to Florida in November and their Orange Bowl triumph against Northern Illinois. Manuel struggled mightily against the Gators, throwing three interceptions and passing for just 187 yards on 33 attempts. E.J was considerably better on New Year’s Day, completing passes at a 68.4% clip and throwing for 291 yards with a QB rating of 141.4.
That’s just two games. Those who know Florida State football outline flaws in Manuel’s game that remind jaded Bills fans of that guy from Tulane.
Here’s Alan Mundy of Tomahawk Nation:
“EJ has demonstrated high levels of proficiency at times. He has also displayed levels of inconsistency at even the fundamental aspects of quarterback play that raise serious questions about his ultimate ceiling as a QB. The frustrating part of these inconsistencies is that they are so very inconsistent and appear seemingly at random. For a coach trying to address these issues it must feel like a game of whack-a-mole; as soon as you resolve one deficiency, another that you thought you had fixed reappears. This suggests a quarterback who has not sufficiently mastered the fundamental aspects of the position to the point that they happen automatically.”
Mundy goes on to state E.J.’s success — or lack thereof — as a pro will depend on the circumstances around him, and most importantly, whether a coaching staff can adapt their style to fit Manuel’s skill set. That’s a giant unknown in Buffalo, where a new staff will try do to what Chan Gailey, Dick Jauron, Mike Mularkey, and Gregg Williams couldn’t.
Dur last night’s press conference Doug Marrone said the Bills were able to take the best QB for Buffalo. Manuel certainly has the size NFL talent evaluators salivate over, measuring in at 6’5″ and 230 pounds. He has the arm to thrive in the NFL and he can make plays on the run.
But those who have watched Manuel at Florida State, including Mundy and Bud Elliot, ultimately go back to the inconsistencies. Elliot wouldn’t draft Manuel with a top 50 pick, declaring his play at Tallahassee that of a third or fourth rounder. After showing an impressive ability to get past the line of scrimmage on the ground as an underclassman, Manuel chose not to run on read option plays in 2011 and 2012. Elliot speculates he may have been trying to keep himself healthy. Bills fans will remember the change in JP Losman’s style after a late hit from Vince Wilfork in 2007.
You can understand why we’re skeptical. Outside of the Raiders, no other team has caused widespread consternation with their draft picks like the Bills. Will this work out? For the sake of our collective sanity, it better.
EJ will not be JP, hopes DD, fan of the BFB.