Former Florida State Seminoles starting QB EJ Manuel was undoubtedly the surprise of the 2013 NFL Draft back in April. After drawing rave reviews from countless NFL scouts following his workouts, Manuel was chosen 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the first-round, above much more largely-heralded prospects such as Geno Smith and Matt Barkley.
With the Bills also bringing in free-agent QB Kevin Kolb, EJ finds himself locked in a battle for the starting job his first year in the league. But with Kolb missing Sunday’s first preseason contest of the year against the Indianapolis Colts with a knee injury as well as having missed practice time due to a death in the family, EJ Manuel would have the entire spotlight to himself–along with the opportunity to show that he can start in the NFL immediately.
And he may have done just that.
After starting off a bit shaky by missing a wide-open Robert Woods over the middle and firing off an errant screen pass to CJ Spiller, Manuel settled in and took his first NFL start in stride.
EJ manned the offense for the entire first half and seemed to have the poise and confidence that you would look for in an NFL starter. The former four-year FSU star finished the game 16-of-21 passing for 107 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a 17-yard strike to TE Dorin Dickerson over the middle in the end zone, and an accurate one at that.
What happened leading up to that TD pass was more eye-opening though.
That pass was the culmination of a 95-yard, 2-minute-drill which saw EJ go an impressive 9-9 passing. He was confident, accurate and settled in to his new role. As time went on in this game, it became clearer by the play that EJ Manuel was comfortable.
If anything, EJ may have gained some more confidence points among Doug Marrone and the Bills’ coaching staff toward his goal of being the opening day starter in Buffalo.
Also of note, Mr. Golden Shoes himself, Dustin Hopkins, saw his first bit of NFL action for the Bills. The former Seminole and FBS career points record holder nailed through two field goals from 23 and 24 yards out. He also added two extra points.
Jack is the Lead Florida State Football Writer for Chop Chat. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14CFB