Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — After trading down, the Buffalo Bills still landed the player they desired, selecting Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel with the 16th pick in the NFL draft.
Manuel became the first quarterback selected on Thursday, and filled a big need for a Bills team that's rebuilding under new coach Doug Marrone. Manuel was the most accurate passer at Florida State, where he completed nearly 67 percent of his passes.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 237 pounds, Manuel has a strong arm, is mobile and went 25-6 in four years with the Seminoles.
He went 263 for 387 for 3,397 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 14 starts as a senior last season. Overall, he threw 47 touchdowns versus 28 interceptions in 41 career games.
Before making their first selection as slotted at eighth overall, the Bills swung a trade with St. Louis. Aside from swapping first-round picks, Buffalo also acquired the Rams' second- and seventh-round selections (46th and 222nd overall). The teams also exchanged third-round picks.
NFL.com described Manuel as displaying good touch on throws and having a quick release. The one weakness is that he has a tendency to force throws into coverage and cause turnovers.
General manager Buddy Nix had been dropping hints over the past six months regarding his desire to draft a quarterback. And his tune did not change in the hours leading up to the draft.
He told Buffalo's WGR-Radio earlier on Thursday that it was the Bills' "intent sometime during this draft is to get that guy," referring to a franchise-caliber quarterback.
Manuel was one of five quarterback prospects who conducted a private workout for Bills officials, and also visited the Bills facility over the past month.
He is expected to be given an opportunity to immediately compete for the starting job. After cutting starter Ryan Fitzpatrick last month, the Bills did sign six-year veteran Kevin Kolb to a two-year contract earlier this month.