EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Round 1, Pick 16 – Florida State
Though Buffalo signed Kevin Kolb to a two-year, $13 million contract at the beginning of April, there was speculation that they might use their first-round pick on a quarterback. But if they did, many expected it would be Ryan Nassib, who was new Buffalo coach Doug Marrone’s quarterback from 2010 to 2012 when both were at Syracuse. And if not Nassib, it would likely be Geno Smith, considered by many to be the top-rated quarterback going into the draft. Instead, in what might have been the biggest surprise of the draft, the Bills, after trading down from 8 to 16, selected EJ Manuel, who ended up being the only quarterback taken in the first round.
At Florida State, Manuel won four straight bowl games, only the second FBS quarterback to do so. Current Minnesota Viking Christian Ponder was the Florida State starter most of 2009 and 2010, but was injured both seasons, giving Manuel the chance to win the bowl games. Manuel was the number one quarterback at Florida State in 2011 and 2012, throwing for 3397 yards and 23 touchdowns in his senior year of 2012.
For insight on Geno Smith and Matt Barkley,
Geno Smith, New York Jets
Round 2, Pick 7 – West Virginia
Smith reportedly brought only one suit to the draft in New York, expecting to be taken on the first day in the first round. Instead, he lasted until the second round and was not even the first quarterback selected. After the draft, new Jets GM John Idzik cut Tim Tebow and incumbent number one Mark Sanchez could be next. Even if Sanchez is still on the Jets this season (cutting him would result in a big cap hit), Smith figures to get every opportunity to become the starter. Sanchez finished 31st in quarterback rating in 2012.
At West Virginia in 2012, Smith threw for 4205 yards with 42 touchdown passes. He had only six interceptions. In Sanchez’ four years with the Jets, he has 68 touchdowns and 69 interceptions.
Matt Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles
Round 4, Pick 1 – USC
Barkley finished sixth in voting for the Heisman in 2011 and would have been a top pick had he declared for the draft. Instead, he returned for his senior year, saw his numbers go down, suffered a shoulder injury, and dropped all the way to the top of the fourth round.
The odds are against Barkley starting in 2013, since the Eagles still have Michael Vick as well as Nick Foles, who started six games in 2012. But Vick has an injury history and the Eagles traded up to select Barkley, who, coming out of USC, may be more ready to contribute immediately than other quarterback rookies. To learn more about fantasy football weekly issues, click here.