FanPost

Erik Manuel Jr: The Best QB of this 2013 Class

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To many, he is the 2-year starter at Florida State that goes by EJ. Even though he's started quite a few games prior and won for the off-injured Christian Ponder, he was a red shirt Senior, ranked 6th out of 146 Quarterbacks nationally and the 61st overall prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft. In my humble opinion, the best QB of the entire 2013 QB class in the upcoming NFL draft. This is a quarterback that improved his numbers and his game season after season. All you keep hearing about him with regards to scouting is - he's a developmental player but skys the limit for him, especially if he gets the right coaching. And then there's the - " I won't be surprised when it's all said and done, EJ will probably be the best QB out of this class when we look back".

Adversity

As a senior quarterback, contending in the ACC, Manuel played one of the best game of his life against an in-conference foe. He had to endure a sense of uneasiness and hopelessness in his senior season. His mother, Jackie, was diagnosed with breast cancer just before the start of 2012 college season. This was a season that prepared EJ for anything the future of professional football could possibly throw at him. Despite the circumstances of adversity, Manuel was made aware of how the world was not about to allow him to grieve, not for one moment. He learned and found ways to put the grieve and discomfort aside, instead put his focus on what he needed to do.


"I knew nobody else was going to care, to be honest with you. People will say, sorry,
and this and that, but you've still got to go out and play. I understood that."
- EJ Manuel

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Poise and Physical Toughness

He helped Florida State to a 9-4 record in 2011 and a third straight postseason appearance and won another Bowl game -– 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. The Seminoles was down most of the game, he kept fighting despite the leg injury leading his team back in the 4th Quarter down 14-3. The Irish defense that featured Harrison Smith (Vikes) and Manti Te'o came attacking from the beginning. The Irish D was ferocious in rushing and taking down Manuel, they sacked and chased him all game long.


The Ordinary Joe

Manuel is just the guy who never seem too high or too low, just the ordinary guy that came to play every game, giving his best, letting his teammates talents and skills do their thing. He is not just a quiet leader but a game general who understands how to command the offense at the line of scrimmage. A quarterback who's shown time and time the ability to rally his troops on never giving up even when they're down. Maybe he just loves to play or he has what experts called "the intangibles". Something you can't measure by just watching tape. Do you find many highlight reels of him on the web? How many impressive touchdowns got you excited about his game? Probably not many. That is because his skills and talent was not necessary throwing the TD but rather leading the team on a game winning drive. When you look for his videos on the web, you'd find it quite boring because game after game you'll find him escaping the pocket running away from defenders while extending drives. Converting critical 3rd downs. When you need him most, he’s shown up time after time. His most impressive asset is his ability to make a play under duress, when the odds are stacked against his team. Be it 3rd and 18, converting the critical 3rd down to extend a drive is what you'll find on his videos. He’s done it. It doesn't matter if it's with his legs or a simple toss to an open receiver in the flat, he gives the team another chance to move closer to the goaline with consistency.

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This is a quarterback that understands he doesn't have to be the one putting up mind-blowing stats. He understands that it takes 11 guys to win.This is a quarterback that’s gonna make the guys around him better. He knows when and how to let the playmakers play. It’s also the reason why you won’t find too many highlight reels of him that you’d want to share with friends because most of his videos are just monotonous drives of him making play after play and then a RB runs in for a score.

The Numbers: So What

I am quite positive that each and everyone who's been tracking the QB prospects are more than aware of the statistical aspect of each QB. Nonetheless, I want to show a little breakdown here from another SBnation fan NUGap.

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Also in a recent analysis put together by nfl.com’s Gil Brandt, Geno Smith and EJ Manuel scored at the top, almost neck-in-neck. Brandt’s system of evaluating young QBs are based on:
1) Air yards, which is defined as the number of yards a ball travels from the point of release to the point of the catch.
2) Rusher points, which measures the quarterback’s effectiveness against four- and five-man pass rushes.
3) Total passing statistics, which includes things like passer efficiency, touchdowns, interception ratio and completion percentage.

Scouting - What Do Expects Say

Walter Football - EJ's strengths: Dual-Threat Quarterback, Powerful arm, Excellent mobility, Possesses Size and strength, Escapability, Experienced, Quick release

NFL.COM - As gifted as any quarterback in the class, the physically imposing Manuel has a chance to shoot up the draft board using his strong arm and mobility in 2012. Scouts appreciate his leadership qualities and toughness (played through his mom's cancer treatments and a broken leg in 2011’s Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame), and hope he can improve on his consistency.

Nick Siegel/eDraft - Manuel is a true dual-threat quarterback. He has great awareness as a runner and does a good job of hanging onto the ball. Manuel has above-average speed for his size, and uses his body well to deflect runners. He reminds me a lot of Colin Kaepernick when he breaks through the line of scrimmage. Manuel is an intriguing and interesting prospect. He is a high character player with great leadership skills and the has the size, speed and mechanics to be a great starter in the NFL. That said, he still has a ways to go and absolutely must improve his decision making skills and accuracy to achieve his full potential at the professional level.

The Sideline View - Speaking of strengths, one of the most impressive traits is his delivery. After he secures the ball with both hands following the snap, he is very quick getting it out. His delivery is compact, which allows him to get rid of the ball without problem once he identifies his target. A quick delivery combined with impressive arm strength can be a deadly combination for the Seminoles quarterback if he realizes his full potential. He can make throws with velocity down the middle and outside the numbers of the field. Moreover, one aspect of Manuel’s game that grew on me while I watched was his short to intermediate accuracy. There’s no doubt his ball placement can sometimes be in question, which I’ll touch on later, but for the most part, he has good accuracy that enables him to hit his targets often.

Consistency: Understanding How to Win
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Manuel went 23-5 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. Compared to the other Top 5 QBs in this draft class, his winning percentage is the highest even when you exclude his 4-0 record in Bowl games.

EJ Manuel (23-5 as a starter .821 Win Pct)
Matt Barkley (34-13 as a starter .723 Win Pct)
Geno Smith (27-14 as a starter .655 Win Pct)
Mike Glennon (15-11 as a starter .576 Win Pct)
Tyler Wilson (15-11 as a starter .576 Win Pct)
Ryan Nassib (21-17 as a starter .552 Win Pct)

When taking a deeper look at all the other QBs in this draft class, you'll find scouts stacking one QB over the other based on their talent and skill level. From their ability to make NFL throws, completion percentage, consistency, passing yards, touchdowns, arm strength, pocket awareness, all the way to size of their hands and which one throws the best spiral. Are all those traits really that critical in translating their game to the next level? Probably so. But I'd questioned the consistency and accuracy of those actual traits translating to eventual success of the QBs that came before them. Just because your measurable are tops when compared to your peers do not immediately mean that you're a guaranteed success in the NFL. As much as it's been a cliché to say the QBs that were missed by scouts who became NFL success stories all possessed the "intangibles", it is exactly what these experts fail to discover pre-draft that makes it so true.

For many of the fans I've come to learn from AP is that most everyone wants the Chiefs to draft a QB this year in the 1st Round (myself included). The big difference has been whether or not each individual agrees on who is the (best) QB prospect KC should consider drafting. How is't that I am going to differ from everyone? The biggest difference to me is this -- the first team to take a QB (meaning the 1st QB off the board) versus the second QB off the board. And then, there's taking a QB at the No.1 overall spot, which doubles the expectation factor by three-folds when you are the player everyone expects to be the best (regardless of position.) Of all 300 players eligible in the draft, you become the best of them all by default (in theory) in the teams' eye if they chose you over all others. The critical point of this is when you throw out all the measurables (stats, skill and physical talent), higher expectations, added pressure to succeed plus other factors in the players eventual environment are elements that truly affects the player psyche - which in turn his intangibles.

Psychological or Mental Toughness

How much of the game is about ones desire and determination, be it toughness, adversity or simply their love for playing the game. Intangibles in a way, is the psychological aspect of the game itself. These same factors and non-measurables are truly the silver lining (finer points) that differentiate a QB prospect making it in the NFL versus not. In this, lies the very fact of how each and every quarterback that is taken atop the draft (first QB selected, regardless of overall position) almost always fall short of the initial expectations. A QB that is taken ahead of all other QB prospects almost feel that they've already been acknowledged as the better player. Already possesses a much greater ability compared to his peers, without ever playing one game in the pros.

This player goes to a team with very high expectations from the team, the city, media and fans. That equates to added pressure to succeed in a very short period under a magnifying glass. When understanding the psychological side of a player, does it matter how much better is Geno's arm compared to Barkley? or how accurate has Geno been compared to Glennon? Or which QB have thrown more accurate deep balls than the other? In the end, each and every one of these QB prospects have had success in some capacity when comparing the measureables. If history have shown anything, it is that – no matter how well one QB was rated over the next, the one that is placed in a less scrutinize, less pressured, lower expectations situation have almost always succeeded. Those elements and situations are what points me to bring up the importance of each players psyche. When a player goes into a situation less pressured with little expectations, it usually means the team and coaches offered them a lot more patience and time to develop. If this isn't just a science but an actual fact based on what history have shown us all, then what it'll all come down to is — the skill and talent aspect of scouting a QB aren't suppose to separate one over the other with regard of who will be better in the next level. Rather, the psychological aspect of these same prospects that is the true difference.

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Below is a list of all the QBs that won in the past 20 Superbowls. It is true that most of them were drafted in the 1st Round. But what many fans have failed to realized is that those QBs not named Manning, Elway or Aikman were not the 1st QB drafted in their respective draft years. So basically, if you do not identify a prospect in line of being a HOF QB in the class of Elways, Mannings or Aikmans in this 2013 draft, you better NOT be the first team drafting the QB. Or you're bound to most likely get the same result as evident in this past 20 years. (this probably could extend further, but I didn't want to go into 1980's and beyond)

I've edited this list somewhat to reflect a more accurate number since some readers got the Superbowls and actual drafts mixed up. This updated list will include the actual number of Superbowls 29, dated to when John Elway was drafted in 1983, a total of 30 NFL drafts. Basically, in 30 drafts and 29 Superbowls, my analogy and theory stands accurate, only Elway, Aikman and the brothers Manning have won a Superbowl as the starting QB - for all quarterbacks taken 1st overall in the draft. And Doug Williams being the only other 1st QB taken that won but he was a 17th overall selection.

SB 47: Joe Flacco (2nd QB drafted in 2008)
SB 46: Eli Manning (1st overall in 2004)
SB 45: Aaron Rodgers (2nd QB drafted in 2005)
SB 44: Drew Brees (2nd QB drafted in 2002)
SB 43: Ben Roethlisberger (3rd QB drafted in 2004)
SB 42: Eli Manning
SB 41: Peyton Manning (1st overall)
SB 40: Ben Roethlisberger
SB 39: Tom Brady (7th QB drafted in 2000)
SB 38: Tom Brady
SB 37: Brad Johnson (13th QB drafted in 1992)
SB 36: Tom Brady
SB 35: Trent Dilfer (2nd QB drafted in 1995)
SB 34: Kurt Warner (was not drafted)
SB 33: John Elway (1st overall in 1983)
SB 32: John Elway
SB 31: Brett Favre (3rd QB drafted in 1991)
SB 30: Troy Aikman (1st overall in 1989)
SB 29: Steve Young (Supplemental draft in 1984)
SB 28: Troy Aikman
SB 27: Troy Aikman
SB 26: Mark Rypien (7th QB drafted in 1986)
SB 25: Jeff Hostetler (2nd QB drafted in 1984)
SB 24: Joe Montana (4th QB drafted in 1979)
SB 23: Joe Montana
SB 22: Doug Williams (1st QB drafted in 1978 - 17th overall)
SB 21: Phil Simms (2nd QB drafted in 1982)
SB 20: Jim McMahon (2nd QB drafted in 1982)
SB 19: Joe Montana

Analysis: My Uncanny Perspective

Does this analysis proof Geno, Barkley, Glennon or Nassib have the potential of being a "bust"? No. But it does proof that the Superbowl winning QBs almost never were the 1st QB drafted off the board. The exception to the rule are the "sure thing" of Aikman, Elway and Mannings if you want to use them in this context. Geno, Barkley, Glennon or Nassib may all become good to very successful QBs in the NFL but so were Carson Palmer, Michael Vick, Matt Ryan, Alex Smith, Chad Pennington, Steve McNair and Drew Bledsoe. But one thing all these players shared was their inability to win a Superbowl as a starting QB.

Many will argue that they rather have a Matt Ryan or Steve McNair then what's on the Chiefs current roster or what they've been given the past 4 years. I can empathize with all of those feelings. But I'm also a fan who've endured through Steve DeBerg, Dave Krieg, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, Rich Gannon and Trent Green. Reason I brought up these Chiefs QB is the very fact that we ought to stop settling for just "Regular Season Wins", instead shoot for an honest belief that the next QB will indeed bring home the Lombardi Trophy.

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Conclusion

I honestly believe in this player - EJ Manuel. While proving that he can win, he has shown the ability to rise up to the challenge with his intangibles, mental toughness and the ability to lead his team in adverse situation. Not every year, you'll find a QB with these sort of background stories but you find players like that in every draft, just not always in the most important position. The current draft scenario puts KC in quite an ideal draft position because EJ is clearly not the highest rated player amongst the QB. This also tells us that he will most definitely not be the 1st QB taken off the board. So whether or not KC drafts him, EJ stands a good chance of being drafted 2nd, 3rd or 4th amongst the QB. If that happens, it will again raise the probability to proving my analysis. A QB not being taken 1st (with the physical skill and talent and amazing psyche) will one day take his team to win a Superbowl.

If you want to join me and tell the naysayers to go on doubting EJ. You can go right ahead because I am very hopeful that this Champion will fall right into our lap. To conclude my piece, here's the truth about the player I see that most of everyone do not. Check out this video.


New Video: EJ at Sports Science. His accuracy topples even Sports Science Alumni Colin Kaepernick in one of the tougher categories. Watch!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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