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Bills Trade Down, Grab Manuel at 16 Overall



Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, Buddy Nix hardly kept his desire for a franchise quarterback a secret. On Thursday, Nix got his man, taking Florida State QB E.J. Manuel with the 16th overall pick.

"I'm just so excited," Manuel said during a conference call. "I'm so proud to be a Buffalo Bill." The first-round selection also pointed out that he felt as if the Bills' brass liked him during the Senior Bowl, the scouting combine and during his private workout with the team. "To me, it was just a matter of when they were going to take me in the draft," he added.

"I've said this before, I think that you need to be able to play in the wind and the cold," said Buddy Nix. "He's got huge hands and he's really strong, I mean as far as arm strength. He's probably, he might depend on that a little too much. He might need some refining as far as touch and stuff, but as far as arm strength, there's no question. He's a huge man."

Buffalo selected Manuel with Doug Marrone's former QB at Syracuse, Ryan Nassib, still on the board along with Geno Smith and Matt Barkley. Manuel put up 3,392 yards and 23 touchdowns during his senior season with the Seminoles, a season that saw FSU capture the Orange Bowl title. Manuel completed 68 percent of his passes and was picked off 10 times in 2012.

He assumed the full-time starting job at Florida State heading into his junior season in 2011 after starting six games over parts of the previous two seasons in place of Christian Ponder. Manuel threw for 2,666 and 18 touchdowns during his first full season under center as a junior.
 
Originally projected as a late-first round or early-second pick, Manuel heads to Buffalo with "upside," according to Nix. The 6'5", 237 lb. quarterback was praised for his strong arm prior to the draft and is also a threat on the ground.

"I actually called my agent as soon as I finished my interview with [offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett] and I was like, 'Man, I really hope Buffalo takes me because I feel like I can fit into the system perfectly.' I know Coach Hackett is a very smart, intelligent coach," Manuel said. "He's very innovative, so I know he's going to have a lot of creative things coming up."
 
Manuel joins Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson as the quarterbacks on the Bills roster. "He'll come in here and he'll compete for the quarterback position," said Marrone. "He has a lot in front of him. It's a situation where he's going to have to earn the trust of the players on this football team already. He's going to have to obviously learn the system."
 
Many mock drafts and speculation heading into Thursday linked Marrone with Nassib, but the Bills decided not to go with the Syracuse product.  "I wouldn't use the word 'conflicted,'" Marrone said of passing on Nassib. "At the end of the day, there's a lot of good quarterbacks in the draft and we were able to go ahead and take the best quarterback that we felt fit us in our situation here in Buffalo." 
 
Manuel joins a team that has shuffled through quarterbacks during a 13-year playoff drought, but the 23-year-old is up for the task. "I think [ending the playoff drought] is a challenge, but I think that's something we can all accomplish as a team," he said. "I don't think that's anything directly on the quarterback. I think as a team, we all have that goal in our mind. That's what we plan on doing."

According to the Buffalo Bills official website, Manuel will wear jersey number 3 next season, the same number he wore at Florida State.

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