Buddy Nix wanted a QB. The fans wanted a QB and all the experts pointed towards a QB.
When the dust settled on the first round, the Bills had come away with the man they think is the answer at quarterback. EJ Manuel.
After swinging an effective trade to slide back eight spots, Buffalo selected Manuel out of Florida State making him the first quarterback ever selected with the team’s first pick.
Most draft pundits had Manuel penciled in somewhere between four and sixth on their best quarterbacks list. At the very least the consensus was that Manuel fell in behind Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib. His place alongside Tyler Wilson and Mike Glennon was up for more debate.
What certainly surprised casual and ardent observers alike is that the Bills pegged Manuel as their man and used the 16th overall selection to take him.
Let’s first credit Buddy Nix (and maybe Doug Whaley too) for knowing the light quarterback market would allow for them to trade down and pulling the trigger on a value-heavy trade. Buffalo surrendered eight picks (and still got the guy they wanted) and another seven selections in the third round (from 71 to 78) while adding an additional second round and seventh round selection and maintaining their stock in the third round.
The biggest coup there is still having their pick of the litter at 16 while adding another selection in the top 64 picks. What will be debated is if their pick was the right one.
I, for one, am a huge Florida State fan an enjoy many of EJ Manuel’s attributes. He is crazy athletic, has a cannon for an arm, appears to have great character attributes and is an all-around good leader. However, he is prone to making some seriously questionable decisions and the primary knock that I share with some is that his numbers were higher than that of his true performance and ability.
Tomahawk Nation is an excellent Florida State blog and had this to say about where Manuel projects as a professional prospect.
One thing I’ve always wondered about him is if he has the ability to break down NFL defenses at the line of scrimmage. By all accounts he is a very intelligent person but I want to know his football smarts. Sometimes those are masked when you play for a big time program with a talent advantage. In my opinion, his biggest learning curve will likely come with pre-snap reads and adjustments. If he masters those there is no telling where his ceiling could be.
The true judgment of this pick will not be made for at least two more seasons. While some will question if the team reached for Manuel, the fact of the matter is that the Bills selected the quarterback with whom they had determined to have the most value; and they managed to do it after trading down.
Based on how the first round played out it would appear that Buffalo would have possibly been able to snag Manuel in the second round and would have most definitely been able to have their pick of at least four quarterbacks even after pulling off this trade. But that is all conjecture now. The straight facts tell us that Nix and Whaley not only swung a very good trade to move back in the draft (which many fans were hoping for) and that they selected the player who was on top of their draft board and who they best felt addressed their need at quarterback.
Again, the Bills football people determined that EJ Manuel held the most value and offered the most return at quarterback and they selected them. When you look at the facts in that manner, you can’t be too upset.
I think it’s a safe assumption that Manuel will be the week one starter over both Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson. His athleticism, ability to run the read-option and his high mobility have me very excited about what he brings to the table. What bears observation is how he learns the offense and the league. If he picks things up quickly, this will look like a brilliant selection.
Perhaps what will be more telling is who the Bills select with their additional second round pick and how the two players they will pick tonight will factor into the pick of Manuel at 16 last night.