Jan 1, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel (3) passes in the second quarter of the game against the Northern Illinois Huskies at the 2013 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

EJ Manuel Confident He'll Be Drafted in 1st or 2nd Round

EJ is getting ready for the draft and he’s very confident that he’ll be taken in the first two rounds:

For much of the offseason, Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel has lurked as an intriguing sleeper in a pretty “meh” quarterback class. The recent uptick in the usage rates of athletic quarterbacks only makes him more interesting for NFL teams.

But I don’t believe many see Manuel as a Day 1 starter. That isn’t stopping the quarterback from being confident about his chances for hearing his name called early during the 2013NFL Draft.

“I have a good feeling that it’ll be within the first two rounds,” Manuel told 92.3 the Fan in Cleveland. “I think the biggest thing for me is just continue to get better. When I have these opportunities to work out for the teams and show them what I can do on and off the field — whether it’s on the board writing my plays or watching film and just talking football with them — I think that’s where I’m able to put my best foot forward.

“So I’m pretty sure I’ve impressed a lot of decision-makers within these franchises, so draft day is gonna be great. Whether I go in the first or second round, I’ll still be happy.”

In other words, it’s not a matter of if he’ll go before the second round ends, but whether or not he’ll be a first-round pick. That’s not something taken out of context either; Manuel told Jim Corbett of USA Today that he thinks he has a “really good chance” of being picked on Thursday.

“I think I have a really good chance to go in the first round of the draft,” Manuel said.

It wouldn’t be stunning if Manuel went in the first round (Lord only knows how many quarterbacks have been over-drafted in the last decade) but given the way the quarterback landscape’s shifted in the past few days — with the Bills signing Kevin Kolb, the Raidersgrabbing Matt Flynn and the Cardinals picking up Carson Palmer — the market is pretty suppressed at the moment.

Manuel is NFLDraftScout.com’s No. 4-ranked quarterback, and the final line of his initial evaluation says it all: “Manuel is a likely candidate to be overdrafted next April because of his intriguing physical tools.”

None of our six freshly updated 2013 NFL Mock Drafts have him going in the first round. But the former Seminoles quarterback clearly is confident he can prove everyone wrong.

We’ve been churning this story week-in, week-out.  EJ Manuel is first round talent.  He should be taken in the first round based on the talent we’ve seen in previous drafts.  I don’t think this is a particularly deep draft at quarterback, but I’d rate EJ Manuel as good of a prospect as Blaine Gabbert.  And Gabbert was taken at 10!

It, of course, will come down to need.  Many of the quarterback needy teams made moves through free agency and trades to improve their quarterback situation.  Teams like the Chiefs, Cardinals, and Raiders have new starting quarterbacks.  But will a team like the Eagles move into the late first round to pick EJ?  Or will the Browns?

Last year, Alex Smith was the starting quarterback for the 49ers.  He was replaced quickly, however, by Colin Kaepernick.  EJ Manuel is very similar to Kaepernick in many respects–being a read option quarterback, big, tall, and a great arm.  The big decision now will be whether teams will take a game on EJ hoping he can replicate what the 49ers did with Kaepernick.

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