As we head toward the NFL Draft in April, Warchant will take a look at the notable seniors (or draft-declared underclassmen) who train their eye toward the professional ranks. As the process moves along, these stock reports will feature updates. Next up in this series, EJ Manuel.
Weight: 236 pounds
2012 Stats: Passed for 3,392 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Rushed for 310 yards and four TDs.
Career Stats: Passed for 7,736 yards, 47 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Rushed for 827 yards and 11 TDs.
NFL Draft projections: CBS NFL Draft Scout - No. 94 player overall, No. 9 QB, 3rd round. ESPN/Scouts Inc. - No. 7 QB, 3rd round
After five years on campus, it's still hard to decide what to make of EJ Manuel's legacy at Florida State. Manuel helped guide the program back to the top of the ACC, but after coming in with such lofty expectations it still seems like potential unrealized. Whether the fact that Manuel never truly developed is on him or the coaching staff remains to be seen. Ultimately though Manuel put up solid numbers in his career and his athletic tools will excite NFL teams.
Manuel finished his career with a record of 25-6 as a starter, and was just the second player in NCAA history to take the majority of the snaps in four bowl wins (West Virginia's Pat White is the other). Manuel did show at times (see the Clemson game) that he does have the ability to take over a game when he's in a rhythm, which is why he could be drafted as high as the late second round to third round.
In addition to his athleticism, Manuel's intangibles are perhaps his biggest asset. While fans grew restless with his performance at times during his career, Manuel's teammates never lost faith. Manuel was the consummate leader during his career and showed tremendous toughness last season as he played with an injured shoulder and even a broken leg in the Champs Sports Bowl.
It might seem strange consider he completed 68 percent of his passes this season, but accuracy is likely what NFL scouts won't like about his game. Manuel was never erratic with his throws, but he did have a tendency to overthrow receivers more than a few times per game. It also wasn't uncommon for receivers to have to slow up to adjust to his throws.
Where does he fit in the NFL?
Manuel certainly has the physical tools to play quarterback at the next level. If he gets drafted by a team that tailors its system around his physical tools, we wouldn't be all that surprised if he had great success at the pro level. Manuel may not be ready to be a starter right away and would certainly benefit by being selected by a team that is willing to allow him to take the time to adjust to life in the NFL as the No. 2 signal caller.
Over the next three months, he'll look to show/improve
In addition to improving upon his accuracy, Manuel's decision making will be the biggest thing dissected by NFL teams. If Manuel can show coaches and scouts at the Senior Bowl he has the ability to check in and out of the right plays for an offense, it could go a long way in improving his stock in a weak quarterback class.
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