Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bills pick E.J. Manuel as first QB off draft board


There wasn't a quarterback on the board that wasn't an option for the Buffalo Bills, who did their due diligence in the months leading up to draft in search for the best fit into Buddy Hackett's offensive scheme.

That fit came as a shock to many, however, as the team drafted E.J. Manuel with the 16th overall pick. (photo: Dave Wilkinson, Flickr)

While Syracuse's Ryan Nassib seemed like a no-brainer to rejoin his old coach Doug Marrone, Manuel's arm strength and mobility was no doubt a deal-maker for the Bills, who now have a legitimate quarterback competition on their hands. Manuel joins Kevin Kolb and Tavaris Jackson in a battle for the starting role.

Manuel impressed at the Senior Bowl earlier this year, completing 70 percent of his passes. He went 12-2 with Florida State in 2012, completing 68 percent of his pass attempts and tallying a 23/10 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Whether Manuel is a long-term solution for Buffalo remains to be seen, as he's been dinged throughout the draft process for his accuracy and timing. GM Buddy Nix stood by his decision Thursday, however, saying that he thinks Manuel has what it takes to lead the team back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

"This guy has leadership qualities and he is smart," Nix said.

The Bills were able to trade down to No. 16 and still acquire their man, adding the 46th and 222nd pick in the process from the St. Louis Rams. The teams also swapped third-round picks.

This marks first time in franchise history that the team has drafted a quarterback with their first pick in a given year and only the third time they have taken a signal-caller in the first round.

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