One day when we go about the exercise of looking back on the 2013 draft and which prospects failed to display the requisite levels of goodness on the field, the names of several quarterbacks will likely be in that discussion.
Or maybe they won’t, and Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, and Ryan Nassib will surprise and then taunt us after they were rumored as possible first rounders, and then they fell considerable distances. But the most surprising development was that the only quarterback selected in the opening round received very little attention as a possible first-round candidate, meaning the bust/boom lens through which his career is eventually viewed is magnified that much further.
After trading back with the Rams, the Bills selected E.J. Manuel with the 16th overall pick. It’s a pick that was met with a little bit of joy (WE FINALLY TOOK A QUARTERBACK IN THE FIRST ROUND!), but mostly horror (IT’S E.J. MANUEL?!?!?).
Buddy Nix, the guy who drafted Manuel, has since stepped down as the Bills general manager, and he’s been replaced by Doug Whaley. So, Doug, we can assume that since such a significant risk was taken on Manuel, he’s your no doubt starter immediately, even as we sit here in mid May?
Well, here’s Whaley during an appearance on NFL Total Access:
“Time will tell. He does have the work ethic and the leadership qualities that he’ll have a chance. But we believe competition brings out the best in everybody. Between him, Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson, even Jeff Tuel, we’re excited to see who comes out on top of that position battle.”
While this response may lead to the throwing of many things among the most fanatical Bills fanatics, it’s not just the politically correct response. It’s the right response.
Look, it’ll take a pretty hurtful tumble by Manuel this offseason to keep him on the sidelines during Week 1. But beyond their obvious high grade on him, the safety net the Bills already have in place surely made their brass less hesitant about finally taking a risk at a position that’s brought them so much anguish recently. If that summer stumble comes and Manuel isn’t ready, they’re more than prepared to fall back on Kolb.
You’re not wrong with the dirty names you’ve called Kolb. But remember that he was pretty alright to start last season while doing his poor man’s Alex Smith game manager impression in Arizona. Then eventually, he broke behind an offensive line that allowed 58 sacks, a league high. That’s a whole lot of hurt.
There are far worse things than having Kevin Kolb as the bridge to your quarterback of the future. Like, say, having Donovan McNabb as the bridge to your quarterback of the future. Deepest apologies, Minnesota.