Rookie EJ Manuel has to earn my respect
The AFCE is going to be the only division in the NFL this year to start a rookie QB in week 1. While every other NFL team will have a starting QB with some NFL experience, the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets will be the only teams with a starter that has zero NFL experience. With the great rookie QBs last year of RG3 and Andrew Luck and Russel Wilson, a sort of negative light has been put on these two rookie, much criticism has been placed on them and ridiculous expectations have been put on both to live up to last year’s QBs. Today I will talk about the one I saw play 4 years at FSU: EJ Manuel
EJ Manuel was not a top QB prospect in this draft, in fact he wasn’t even in the top 5 by many “experts” (Mike Mayock did have him #2 though). However he won the Senior Bowl MVP, was the best QB in the Combine and presents himself well in the interviews with that “it” factor. When he was picked #16 everyone was shocked, Mel Kiper was so shocked he begged the Bills to draft Ryan Nassib instead (Nassib fell to the 4th round). In camp he has not looked as bad as these “experts” thought he would be and won the Buffalo Bills starting job with ease. Also having Jimbo Fisher not call the plays has made him look good if not great at times.
Now this does not mean that he is like the rookie QBs from last year, he is not as NFL-ready as Luck and still has some rawness in him. His biggest problems in college were pre-snap reads of the opponent defenses and reading the defenses quickly, especially more complex ones like what the Florida Gators had. He also tried too hard to make a play and instead of throwing the ball away would run around and get sacked for a 10-yard loss, putting FSU out of FG range. This and making bonehead decisions led many FSU fans (myself included) frustrated at him.
However he has some things that make him impressive. He is a winner, going 26-5 as a starter and beating the U every time he played them. His accuracy is great, being the most accurate QB in FSU history, and returning FSU back to prominence after the Dark Ages of the 2000s. He is a great runner, in fact the best thing he did was running the option and he could extend plays which was needed because FSU had a line that would make even a high school pass rusher look like JJ Watt. The arm strength is great as he could make every throw and the deep ball was one of the best things he could do when the line actually gave him time.
Now this does not mean he will be good, in fact I expect him to fall on his face a couple of times and end up fighting with Ponder as best FSU QB in the NFL. He will have his struggles, he will have to adjust to not playing the likes of Duke or Savannah State anymore but he will learn and get better. In the end of the year I expect him to prove the “experts” wrong and have the Bills getting ready for a playoff run in 2014.
Go Noles! Best QB in the state of Florida
Written by ArcherNoles