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Raiders host Florida State QB E.J. Manuel

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The talented ACC quarterback has been rising on experts' draft boards recently. Should the Raiders take a shot at him?


Reports indicate the Raiders have recently had Florida State QB E.J. Manuel in for a visit.

Manuel is a physically imposing guy at 6'5" and 237 lbs. He reminds me from a physical standpoint of a slightly smaller Cam Newton, although he doesn't have Newton's sheer speed or athleticism. He is closer to that standard than any other QB prospect in the draft, however.

Manuel has a good, not great, arm. He can make all the throws you look for in a quarterback but he does not always lead his receivers and enable them to make plays after the catch. He also seems to think very highly of his arm, making throws with just his arm rather than properly stepping into the throw and completing the motion. That being said, his physical gifts enable him to make long passes with what appear to be mere flicks of his arm. If he learns proper passing footwork and how to make passes with his entire body, he will be the total package as a pocket passer.

However, it's clear from his game tape that he is not really a pocket passer. He ran a lot in college, off designed draws and play-action and when plays were busted. It's obvious from watching him that he has that same sort of man-amongst-boys idiom that one saw with Newton at Auburn. The difference is that Manuel was playing with an offensive line which could send several players to the NFL and was an extremely good one at the college level, whereas Newton played with nearly zero NFL talent on his team whatsoever (save Nick Fairley) and pretty much did everything himself on offense.

The big quarterback, from all accounts, is an intelligent young man of high character with excellent leadership skills. He took over as starter at FSU upon the graduation of Christian Ponder (a first round pick) and the team improved under him. There are a few reasons why Ponder was a first rounder and Manuel isn't widely considered on that level. Firstly, Manuel will force passes into tight coverage, often resulting in turnovers. He was able to get away with this with his four-star receivers in college, but he will not be able to do so against NFL corners and safeties. Also, Manuel isn't always accurate in short-to-middle routes, sometimes floating the ball or throwing it into the ground. The floats are more concerning as they are easy interceptions when one is not playing against Duke or Virginia.

Manuel is an interesting prospect in that he can clearly excel with good coaching in any system, whether a team wants to make him into a pure pocket passer or have him run a spread. He has a lovely play-action fake and could run a zone read or pistol with ease. It's all about fixing a few small mechanical errors that will allow him to use his physical gifts to their true potential.

I see Manuel as a high second round pick, but players always slip through the cracks. After Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib are selected, Manuel makes an intriguing prospect for a team looking to develop an athletic QB.