The Buffalo Bills made the surprise move of the 2013 NFL Draft when they decided to take Florida State Seminoles signal-caller E.J. Manuel with the 16th pick in the draft. The Bills made the move to trade down and allow the St. Louis Rams to take Tavon Austin in the top ten, and Austin was reportedly the highest-rated prospect on the Bills big board. Since the Bills were the first team to take a quarterback off the board, they had to have selected the guy they were the highest on.
That quarterback was E.J. Manuel, and it is no surprise that Doug Marrone told Mike and Mike that Manuel was always the guy. Marrone said, “Right from the beginning — it happened a while ago. It was very easy, it was very easy for all of us, we were all in it together and we were very excited about it.”
Even if you think it was absolutely moronic for the Bills to take Manuel in the first (I don’t, by the way, since there was plenty of steam on Manuel heading into the draft, and a team like the Philadelphia Eagles could have traded up into the late first-round to secure him), you have to give plenty of credit to the Bills organization. They executed a great smokescreen with former Syracuse Orange QB Ryan Nassib, and it definitely seemed believable due to more than simply just the Marrone link. But in hindsight, it did look far too easy, and I remember I was talking with a few Pats bloggers and all of us agreed that there was something more to it. I honestly thought the Bills would go with a West Coast Offense and draft Matt Barkley, but they went the exact opposite route.
The allure with E.J. Manuel lies in his athletic ability, because the read option is becoming increasingly popular in this league given the successes of Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick. Manuel possesses an excellent arm, and there were times at Florida State when he looked like “the guy”. There is no doubting Manuel’s physical tools, but he is extremely raw. Manuel is as boom-or-bust as it gets, because he never even pieced it all together in college. If the Bills can get this to work, then their smokescreen won’t be the only thing we laud.
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