EJ Manuel QB Florida State #3
Size/Athleticism: Elite size and athleticism. He has the athleticism to run the read option and he also has the size to take a pounding. He’s much more physical than guys like Kaepernick, Wilson and RG3 and probably less of an injury risk.
Arm strength/Accuracy: Can make all the throws necessary. Accuracy on short routes is adequate and he typically puts a nice touch on short and intermediate throws. He also maintains decent accuracy on the move and when under pressure However, his accuracy on the deep ball is horrendous. He can throw to the go route reasonably well, but watching him attempt to hit a receiver on a crossing route beyond 10 yards down the field is tough to watch. He’s simply not capable of consistently throwing to deep corner or post routes, which will limit the number of teams interested in his services.
Footwork/Release: Quick feet and demonstrates good footwork in the pocket. He’s able to step up in the pocket to buy some time while keeping his eyes downfield. Inconsistent mechanics. He can maintain his accuracy on short routes when throwing under pressure, but too often he displays lazy mechanics even when there’s no pressure.
Decision making: He’s usually patient in the pocket and even when he’s forced out he keeps his eyes downfield. He’s definitely a quarterback first and a runner second. However, he appears to struggle reading defenses post-snap. Many of his bad decisions stemmed from simply not seeing defenders and anticipating their movements. The overwhelming majority of his throws were on short and intermediate routes, many of which were curls and screens. These throws require almost no ability to read the defense. It’s possible his struggles stem from a lack of experience due to Florida State’s offense, but it could also be that Florida State designed the offense to mask Manuel’s deficiencies. Also needs to work on his ball security – far too many fumbles and bobbled snaps.
Intangibles: Quiet leader on the field but appears to be well respected by coaches and teammates.
Durability: Missed time with a shoulder injury in 2011.
Comments: The rise of the read option has transformed EJ Manuel from a late-round project to a potential rookie starter. It’s important to note that he is not the next RG3, because he lacks RG3′s ability in the pocket, but in a similar system to what the Redskins ran in 2012, Manuel could be effective. Whoever drafts Manuel needs to commit to designing the system around him. He isn’t going to sit in the pocket and pick apart defenses, but a quick-strike, read-option offense could make him a dangerous threat. I believe his upside is fairly limited, but I do believe he can be an adequate starter if he’s surrounded by the right talent in the right system.