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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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Bills top 20 talents: No. 18 - EJ Manuel

The countdown of the top 20 most talented Bills on the roster is underway and started off on the offensive side of the ball. As it continues along, after a brief stop on defense, once more we find ourselves on the side that is in charge of putting up points on a weekly basis.

Using a blend of the player’s overall skill level, success on the field and projection, the next player on the list is undoubtedly the most important to the outcome of the 2014 campaign. Coming in at number 18 is quarterback EJ Manuel.

QB EJ Manuel

Age: 24 (3/19/90)
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 237

Why he’s here:
- When the Buffalo Bills boldly elected to use their first round pick on EJ Manuel in the 2013 NFL Draft in a year that many pundits believed no quarterbacks should be taken that highly, they were doing it with an eye towards what he could become. It’s hard to ignore the talent that Manuel has from a skill level perspective, having the prototypical height, the prototypical arm, the mobility and the charisma that teams look for in quarterback prospects. The only problem is that Manuel cannot be viewed any differently than from a projectional prism. Most of the great NFL teams have their quarterback among the top of their talent lists, but the Bills aren’t there yet with Manuel. Until his on the field success matches up with his skill level, the team might continue to find themselves yearning for the playoffs.

2014 outlook:
It’s hard to predict what Manuel might do in 2014 from a statistical perspective. The Bills will likely utilize a run-heavy approach while also giving him more of a chance to diagnose defenses than he had in 2013. Now that he’s acclimated to the NFL game, Manuel will have a better season than he did in 2013 — it’s just a natural progression for most young quarterbacks in the game. The bigger question that needs to be answered will be if Manuel’s progress as a player will match up with where the Bills want him to be. One of his biggest determining factors will be how accurate he is on intermediate throws, an area in which he has struggled since his time at Florida State. Now that the team has a bonafide top wide receiver target in Sammy Watkins along with another quality NFL player in Mike Williams, the Bills are about to begin to find out their answer on their former first round quarterback.

Bills Top 20 Talents
20) TE Scott Chandler
19) CB Leodis McKelvin
18) QB EJ Manuel
17) ??? - Tuesday, July 8, 6 pm

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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