Kansas City Chiefs’s fans have long yearned for their team to draft and develop their own starting quarterback. The Chiefs have the first overall draft pick this season and unfortunately, by all accounts, there is no franchise type quarterback worthy of that first pick in this year’s draft pool. Over the past several weeks, KCKingdom has taken a look at a couple a options for quarterback in maybe the third or fourth round, or even the second round, if the Chiefs can acquire one via a trade over the next few days. Mike Glennon and Ryan Nassib have already been profiled. Today, we will take a look at E J Manuel.
Manuel, the former Florida State signal caller who became only the second quarterback ever to win 4 consecutive bowl games, physically looks like a an NFL quarterback. He stands 6’5″, 240 pounds. NFL.com had this to say about him in their draft profile:
As gifted as any quarterback in the class, the physically imposing Manuel has a chance to shoot up this list using his strong arm and mobility… Scouts appreciate his leadership qualities and toughness (played through his mom’s cancer treatments and a broken leg in 2011s Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame), and hope he can improve on his consistency. The Seminoles’ decision-making and accuracy drop in the face of pressure, but Manuel has the velocity and mobility teams look for in a project quarterback.
The site listed Blaine Gabbert as his closest NFL comparison, which is not exciting or encouraging in any way. Gabbert may have developed differently if he had been brought along at a more deliberate pace. If drafted as a project quarterback as opposed to a franchise savior, Manuel may have more upside.
Charlie Campbell of walterfootball.com evaluated Manuel in a similar manner:
Entering Manuel’s senior season, there were some that were projecting him to be a top-10 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The reason for the lofty projections was Manuel’s dynamite skill set. He 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.
Campbell mentioned numerous weaknesses, including that he tends to panic, struggles through progressions, and doesn’t look good against good defenses. Campbell’s scouting report indicates that while Manuel has all the physical tools, they haven’t necessarily translated into a top tier quarterback.
On thesidelineview.com, Alen Dunonjic seemed to agree with the previous scouting reports:
There’s little question about the raw talent of Florida State’s E.J. Manuel. He’s a very gifted quarterback that has all the tools that NFL personnel men look for: arm strength, accuracy, mobility, and a compact delivery are among them. However, the tools haven’t ever been the question, it’s been the lack of consistent production.
Last season, Manuel had 18 touchdowns and averaged an impressive 8.6 yards per attempt. On the other hand, he also had 8 interceptions, 9 fumbles and several throws that were left on the field. A reason for his issues is that he lacks experience — which is visible in his decision making and footwork. If he improves in these areas and gains consistency, Manuel could skyrocket up draft boards and potentially be a top 45 selection.
Dumonjic noted that Manuel is poised and accurate but needs to work on his his consistency. He also mentions that Manuel uses proper technique with his play action but needs to work on his footwork in the pocket.
All three of these scouting reports basically are in agreement about EJ Manuel. He is physically ready to play in the NFL but he needs a lot of polish. The Chiefs are in a situation to develop a quarterback behind starter Alex Smith and back up Chase Daniel. There would be no pressure on any quarterback the Chiefs would draft. Manuel is a more mobile, athletic quarterback than Glennon or Nassib, but is not as polished. Glennon or Nassib may be the safer choices but Manuel would have more upside to be a star.
Manuel is not a first round talent; he just needs too much work. He could be a possible second round choice if the Chiefs trade into that round but even then, the Chiefs have other holes to fill as well. Much like Glennon or Nassib, Manuel is more of a third round candidate but it is doubtful he will still be on the board with Kansas City selects with the first pick of the 3rd round. Several teams seem to be eying Manuel in the second round.
Fans should not look at Manuel as any kind of savior at quarterback. He would be a long term project. The Chiefs could probably do worse then Manuel but unless they attain a pick in the second round, they probably won’t get the chance. If Kansas City trades their first overall pick for more depth in picks, or can move discontent Brandon Albert for a second round draft pick, then the Chiefs can take a chance in the second or third rounds on a project quarterback, and I think they will. If they do not make a trade, I doubt they will draft any quarterback in this draft and will look to address the position in future drafts.