The Denver Broncos had the audacity to interview a Quarterback prospect during the Senior Bowl Week last month. now before anyone has a panic attack or thinks something is wrong with Peyton Manning or even Brock Osweiler, one should realize that this will happen each and every year. Not only does it help out the Scouting department for a future opponent, it keeps the young players on their toes, knowing that no job is secure and that everyone needs to work hard. With that said, I’d like to introduce you to EJ Manuel out of Florida State.
Erik "EJ" Manuel Jr. is a 6’4", 237 lb. Red shirt Senior, ranked 6th out of 146 Quarterbacks nationally and the 61st overall prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft. His pre-Combine 40 Time is listed as 4.67 seconds. He is currently projected as a 2nd round pick in April’s draft.
EJ’s size will make scouts drool and thus drive him up the draft boards. He is the one of the most accurate QB’s in FSU history with a 66.1 completion percentage. His pocket presence as well as his speed and elusiveness as a runner puts him right up there as one of the top Quarterbacks in the country going into the national Scouting Combine.
#3 EJ Manuel
Born March 19, 1990 (22)
Graduated with a degree in Communications
Hand Length-10 1/8"
- Most Valuable Player - 2010 Gator Bowl
- Most Valuable Player - 2013 Senior Bowl
- 2-Time member of the ACC All-Academic football team
After redshirting in 2008, EJ made several starts as a freshman and sophomore in relief of an oft-injured Christian Ponder, recording a 4-2 record as a starter. Manuel became the full-time starter in 2011, starting all but one game and finishing second in the ACC with a 65.3% completion mark. His career totals as a Seminole are: 42 games (32 starts), 600/897 for 7,741 yards, a 66.9 Completion rate, 8.6 yards per attempt, 47 Touchdowns, 28 Interceptions and a Passer rating of 150.4. Manuel is also and agile QB, rushing for 827 yards on 298 carries and 11 Touchdowns.
2012: Started all 14 games and had career highs across the board, going 263/387 for 3,397 yards, a 68% Completion rate, 23 TDs, 10 INTs and a 156.1 passer rating. He also ran for 310 yards and 4 TD's on 103 carries while leading the Seminoles to a 12-2 record including a 31-10 victory over Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl.
2011: Led FSU to a 9-4 record in his first full-year as a starter while becoming the most accurate QB in FSU history as far as career completion percentage (66.1) after completing 203-of-311 passes (65.3 percent) in 2011. Manuel also threw for 2,666 yards and 18 Touchdowns against 8 Interceptions, throwing multiple TD passes in six games and eclipsing 250 yards passing in 5 games. EJ had three straight games where he passed for 200+ yards in the first half alone. He ended the season throwing 121 passes without an Interception which covered the final five games as FSU went 4-1 during the stretch. Manuel injured his left shoulder during the Oklahoma game and sat out the loss to Clemson and the start of the Wake Forest game as well. One of the team's permanent captains at the team's annual banquet.
2010: Built on his stint as a 4-game starter in 2009, making 10 appearances with starts against Clemson and Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game. He led FSU to a 4-2 record as the starter, including what amounted to an elimination game victory over Clemson while filling in for senior Christian Ponder. EJ led the Seminoles in completion percentage (69.9) and passing efficiency (153.25) while passing for 861 yards and four TDs and adding 170 yards and one TD on the ground.
In 2009, Manuel was thrown into the starting role when Christian Ponder suffered a season-ending injury late in the Clemson game. He posted a 3-1 record as the starter, capped by his MVP performance in FSU's Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia. He rallied the Seminoles from a 14-3 deficit against the Mountaineers by completing 17-of-24 pass attempts for 189 yards and rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries. Manuel appeared in seven games, including four starts, passing for 817 yards and 2 TD’s against 6 INT’s. His 196 rushing yards ranked third on the team.
2008: Redshirt season.
EJ Manuel became the 2nd player in college football history to win four consecutive bowl games. EJ led the Seminoles to a 12 win season for just the third time in program history and the first time since their dominant stretch in the 1990s. During his senior season, he threw for the second most yards in team history with 3,392, trailing only Chris Weinke's Heisman Trophy winning season. Manuel went 25-6 as a starter, won the first BCS bowl for Florida State since 2000, won five out of six games against intrastate rivals Miami and Florida and he also led the offense to its most prolific season in team history.
NFL.COM DRAFT GRADE-68.7
Manuel’s play was not necessarily consistent in his first year as the full-time starter in 2011 (2,666 passing yards, 18 TD, eight INT, 65.3 percent completion rate), and he missed the team’s loss to Clemson (and did not start the following week vs. Wake Forest) with his own shoulder injury. He still helped Florida State to a 9-4 record and a third straight postseason win -– showing supreme toughness by playing on a broken leg (fractured left fibula) during the team’s Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame while going 20 for 31 for 249 yards and two touchdowns.
STRENGTHS: Manuel is a physically imposing passer. He spent most of his time in tallahassee throwing from the shotgun formation, but he is also capable using play action. He is a true dual-threat Quarterback with excellent mobility. When watching him, you can see that EJ has many of the tangibles NFL teams look for in a QB, including a quick release. He is an intelligent, high character team leader with a powerful arm.
WEAKNESSES: He has a tendency to force throws into coverage trying to make a play. His decision-making and field vision are suspect. He struggles to work through progressions and often takes off running too quickly. Manuel has some accuracy issues as well. Short throws are often low or wide and his deep ball accuracy is uneven, as well. Gets happy feet under pressure, spins to the outside to avoid the rush. Must step into his throws more consistently to fully utilize his arm strength.
NFL COMPARISON: Blaine Gabbert, Jason Campbell/Terrelle Pryor, Josh Freeman.
Between some issues with his throwing style and his decision making, Manuel's weaknesses outweigh his potential. The guy is a beast of a quarterback with tremendous athleticism. He also has a strong arm and can push the ball downfield but he was iffy in drills all week. He's not close to being a starter in the NFL and his drafting will be done by a team that thinks they can mold him into a major threat. - Dave Richard, CBSSports.com
The Virginia native passes the eye test with a tall, strong frame and the arm strength to spin the ball downfield. He has the legs to extend and make plays. Manuel is an intriguing NFL prospect because of his raw physical and athletic tools, but will need to prove to NFL scouts that he is just as talented with the mental part of the game before he is labeled as a top 50 prospect.
He routinely held the ball too long in the pocket and seemed rattled by pressure, creating much concern among NFL teams about his ability to quickly read the defense, process and anticipate open windows. On a good note, Manuel showed off his outstanding arm strength and athleticism, flashing the footwork and agility to avoid the rush and pick up big chunks of yards with his legs.--Dane Brugler
Charlie Campbell of Walter Football Summarizes:
Manuel is big, strong, mobile and has a cannon for an arm. Manuel's elite arm strength and athleticism gives him all the physical potential an NFL team could ask for. However, he has major issues as a passer and has never developed into a high first-round pick despite the athletic ability to be that good. NFL sources who watch Florida State closely have told WalterFootball.com that Manuel is not a natural pocket passer. They don't feel he is as accurate as his completion percentage indicates. They went on to say that Manuel is frustrating to watch because he has all the makings to be a special quarterback, but is not utilizing his full potential.
Ej Manuel 2009-2010 Season Highlights
FSU EJ Manuel 2011 Highlights
Clemson vs Florida State Highlights - 2012
Florida State QB EJ Manuel vs Clemson
Boston College vs Florida State Highlights - 2012
EJ Manuel will be a project for the NFL team that selects him. He has many of the attributes teams are looking for, but he would benefit from some coaching and seasoning before being thrust into a starting role. His ceiling is pretty high since much of what he needs is definitely coachable and with a degree in Communications, that shouldn’t be hard to accomplish. Like most college Quarterbacks that aren’t in the top tier, EJ needs to study and recognize Defenses to be able to function effectively at the next level. He also needs to work on his footwork and tighten his delivery. If the Broncos were to select him, he would be behind Brock Osweiler on the depth chart and the Broncos would have 2 understudy’s for Peyton Manning. This alone makes Manuel a luxury pick for Denver at this time. And even then, I wouldn’t take him before their 3rd round pick. I’m sure EJ will get drafted in the top 100 by an impudent GM.
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