Last night's first round of the NFL Draft had it's share of drama and surprises. Here's an analysis…
First Round: Manuel Drafted by Bills at 16
E.J. Manuel Recruiting (Class of 2008): Scout.com had the Virginia Beach native rated as a 5-star prospect and the no. 2 QB in the country, Rivals.com had Manuel as a 4-star prospect. Quarterback recruiting is a little different from other positions and it is rare to have a national offer list. Manuel did have a national offer list and chose FSU after first visiting Miami. Alabama, Oregon, Penn State, LSU, and Tennessee were some of the other schools that went after Manuel. At the end of the day, he hit it off with Jimbo Fisher and the rest is history. He is one of the top 4 prospects at his position heading into the draft which, by definition, makes him a 5-star caliber player. In other words, a 5-star that lived up to the hype. At FSU: FSU fans first saw Manuel when he was thrust into the starting role as a redshirt freshmen after Christian Ponder got injured. He was 3-1 as a starter which included a loss to UF and Tim Tebow, but a bowl win over West Virginia. His sophomore year was very similar as Ponder once again went down with an injury and Manuel earned wins over Clemson and VT as well as coming in in relief in the bowl win over South Carolina. His junior campaign saw several high's as well as several low's as FSU underachieved as a team after a brutal stretch that included Oklahoma and Clemson (both losses). Manuel was injured for the first time (left shoulder vs. Oklahoma) and actually missed the Clemson game (Clint Trickett). When the dust settled he had thrown for more than 2,500 yards with an 18/8 ratio AND defeated Notre Dame in the bowl game. Responded as a senior with his best year including 12 wins, more than 3,000 yards passing, and 20+ touchdowns. Finished his career 25-6 as a starter, 16-3 in ACC play, and as FSU's leader in all-time completion percentage (66.9%). Also ran for over 300 yards. As a Pro: Manuel will be attempting to be the second straight FSU starter to go in the first round of the draft (Ponder) and most FSU fans would agree that Manuel has a better chance in the league than Ponder. However there remain significant question marks around his game. Can he put the pace on the ball to make all the throws? Does he process information fast enough? What offense is he best suited for? Is he clutch? Only time can answer some of those questions, but one thing is for certain, he has athleticism and speed to buy time in the pocket and make plays with his feet. We think this will be the key factor for him to earn starting rep's and ultimately stay on the field. By all accounts he is a very coachable player and even if he is not ready to go in year one, there is a good chance he will develop in an NFL system. For the Bill's: The Bill's traded down and then used the 16th pick of the draft on Manuel and there is no question that he is now the quarterback of the future in Buffalo.
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