With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rear-view, it’s time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we’re happy to start this year’s Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year’s group here . The final 50 players listed were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field. 45. E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State We continue this year’s series with Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel, perhaps the most interesting quarterback prospect in a draft class full of prospects at his position. Despite some impressive stats in 2012 (263 completions in 387 attempts for 3,397 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, as well as 310 yards and four touchdowns on 103 rushing attempts), Manuel is seen by many as a player with an incomplete grade. There are questions about his on-field decision-making ability, his ability to read defenses at an advanced level, how well he throws under pressure, and how able he is to throw with a sense of anticipation. On the positive side (yes, there is a positive side), the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Manuel has all of the physical tools you’d want in a modern NFL quarterback. He has the arm to make every throw, and he’s the only quarterback in this draft class with the running ability to take on the league’s increasing number of read-option, zone-option, and Pistol packages. He was the best quarterback during Senior Bowl week, showing off some pretty good throws in practices, and he was named Most Outstanding Player in the game. He did this despite dealing with his mother’s fight against breast cancer. More than any other quarterback that week, he seemed to be able to take new practice concepts into a game — his seam throw to Alabama tight end Michael Williams for a touchdown in the game was the exact same throw he made during Wednesday practice, and it was one of the more impressive throws of the week in both instances. So, the question is whether E.J. Manuel is a running quarterback whose skill set has topped off, or a relatively raw player who can be coached into something more special. Based on what I’ve seen, I think Manuel is hitting the NFL at exactly the right time. Pros: Excellent play-action and boot-action quarterback with good touch on first-read screens and slants out of simple rollouts. Sells playfakes very well, especially on reverse boot rollouts. Smooth and elusive runner for his size who gains acceleration the longer he’s carrying the ball. Will keep his eyes downfield even as he’s running (a must for any option quarterback who can actually throw the ball).
Most recent posts