E.J. Manuel appeared on a makeshift practice football field Wednesday with several of America’s best future NFL prospects in midtown Manhattan for the NFL’s annual Play60 charity event on the eve of the NFL draft. On Thursday, Manuel will find out if he deserves to share the same stage as as Geno Smith, Luke Joeckel, Sharrif Floyd, Dion Jordan and several other of his colleagues who are near locks to be selected in the first round. No quarterback’s stock has soared more going into the final week of pre-draft workouts than Manuel, who months ago was viewed as a second-day pick who might last into the third or fourth round. Last month, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock elevated the former Florida State quarterback to No. 2 in his quarterback rankings behind West Virginia’s Smith. Interest shown by the Eagles, Browns, Bills and Jets -- each of which select in the top 15 -- suggest that Manuel’s draft ceiling is much higher than initially thought. Asked how interested he thought the Eagles were in drafting him, Manuel confidently boasted, “They want me pretty bad.” “But I think it’s just a matter of who takes me first, because I know the Eagles may want me, the Cleveland Browns may want me, the Buffalo Bills and the Jets,” he said. “I think those are all sequential picks, you know what I mean, within those top 13 picks or whatever. I’m just hoping one team loves me, because really, that’s all you need, one team to fall in love with you.” Manuel is a microcosm of this year’s quarterback class. He is far from a finished product and comes with as many questions as answers, but his scouting report doesn’t differ much from other potential early quarterback picks, including Smith, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Mike Glennon and Tyler Bray. Mayock, who also appeared at the charity event, said his endorsement of Manuel as the class’ second-best quarterback stems from his overall frustration in trying to evaluate the overall talent of a class that several league officials have said lacks a no-brainer. “I finally got to the point where I said, ‘If I’m going to make a mistake on a late-one, mid-two [round] kind of quarterback, I’m gonna do it on an athlete with size and arm talent,’” Mayock said. “And as for me, E.J. Manuel didn’t get asked to do a lot [at Florida State], and I don’t think you can ding the kid. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, can he read defenses?’ But I don’t think they asked him to do it a lot. So we don’t really know that. “I think he’s a big kid with upside and arm talent. If the Eagles jumped on him in the second round, I think he’d be a great fit.”
E.J. Manuel on Eagles: 'They want me pretty bad'
CSN Philly | Apr 25