Jan.1, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel (3) reacts after teammate fullback Lonnie Pryor (24) runs in a touchdown in the first quarter against the Northern Illinois Huskies during the 2013 Orange Bowl game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

EJ Manuel will be drafted in the 1st Round

Oct 20, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel (3) hands the ball off to running back James Wilder Jr. (32) during the third quarter against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium. Florida State won 33-20. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As we discussed yesterday, EJ Manuel was one of the most polarizing players to wear an FSU uniform.

As it turns out, he seems to be one of the most polarizing players in this year’s NFL Draft.  No one can seem to make up their mind as to where he will land.  He’s been placed up and down draft boards and here at ChopChat, we are going to say this: he will make it into the first round.  Your reactions may sound something like this:

That’s crazy, you are a moron.

I won’t attempt refute your claim.  But I’ll say this much:  EJ is a very likable guy and all it takes is one team to fall in love with you enough to select you in the first round.  CBS Sports published an article yesterday about EJ’s prospects and I must say, I just disagree:

He showed some progression over the years but not enough for me to feel comfortable drafting him in the top-100 picks on draft weekend. He was productive for the Seminoles but relied on a lot of basic throws in college, including check down after check down. While I think there is no question that Manuel will develop in several areas with some pro coaching, I have strong doubts that he’ll be able to improve his anticipation enough to be a reliable and consistent downfield passer against NFL defenses. [Dane Brugler]

While I have a fourth-fifth round grade on Manuel, I fully expect him to be drafted somewhere on the second day in the 2013 NFL Draft. While his college tape isn’t all that impressive, coaches see the physical skills and will believe he can be “coached up.” With more teams implementing read-option plays to their offenses, Manuel might be a hot commodity on draft day.

Rang acknowledges the read-option possibilities with Manuel but believes his well-rounded skill set will pique the interest of scouts from teams using more traditional offenses, as well.

I’m not sure how you can say EJ will be taken on the 2nd day.  Did people really forget about what happened to Christian Ponder?  Christian was taken with the 12th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings.  Many people say EJ has more potential than Christian.  So, how do you reconcile the two?  If EJ truly has more potential, as many have argued, then he is going to be selected in the 1st round by someone.

Let’s take a step back, however, and remember that was dealing with more than football last year:

Throughout that personal turmoil Manuel had a very good season, with 3,101 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns, leading the Seminoles to an ACC title and an Orange Bowl appearance.

A loss against Florida in which Manuel had four turnovers was a tough game, but very few people knew that Manuel was struggling after seeing his mother for the Senior Day game.

“It all culminated,” Fisher said. “His mama wasn’t supposed to come to the Florida game, and she walked out there on the field and he hadn’t seen her in eight weeks and she looked a lot different.”

Fisher said he thinks Manuel’s mother will be OK, which is great to hear. He said that Manuel has had to learn a tough lesson this year.

“Unfortunately, the world doesn’t care. As athletes and people, you have to move on, you have to do things and you have to deal with situations in your life that are very tough,” Fisher said, according to CoachingSearch.com.

EJ is a professional.  He did not want to come out and make excuses for mistakes he made, but he dealt with (1) the pressure of playing quarterback at FSU and (2) knowing his mom was battling for her life.

On FSU’s senior day, EJ’s mom surprised him by honoring him before the game.  Like Jimbo said, she obviously looked different.  It was one of EJ’s more disappointing games, but for good reason.  I’m not saying we should excuse away mistakes, but we can at least say that EJ is capable of handling pressure and difficult decisions.  He’s a true leader.  He has the physical tools.  He’s no worse or better than Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder two years ago.  He may not have Geno Smith’s accolades but he doesn’t need them.  He has his own.  He mastered Jimbo Fisher’s complicated offense.  He won 4 bowl games.  He’s a read-option quarterback, which is very timely considering the latest fad in the NFL.  EJ’s stats were better than Christian Ponder’s and while you say, “Well, EJ had better skill players,” I’d argue that Christian had a better offensive line between Hudson, Datko, Sanders, McMahon.

So, here we go:  EJ will get taken late in the first round.

I’m will take on anyone willing to bet me.  I will dedicate a post to each and every one of your respective schools, about why they are great and why FSU should respect them.  So, who’s going to hold me accountable for my words?  In return, you’ll do the same.  I welcome all challengers.

Tags: 1st Round Draft Ej First Manuel Nfl Quarterback Round

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