The more NFL teams get to know Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel, the more they seem to like him. It wouldn't be a surprise if Manuel winds up getting drafted in the first round because of it. He expects as much.
"I think I have a really good chance to go in the first round of the draft," Manuel told Robert Klemko of USA Today on Wednesday. "If a team wants to take a shot on me -- and I think they should, they'll get a great quarterback -- somebody who is really going to help their franchise."
Manuel could be a target for a team looking to trade back into the end of the first round. Many of the teams showing the most interest are quarterback-needy teams at the very top of the draft. He has conducted or scheduled private workouts with the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns. The Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals have also reportedly expressed further interest.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock elevated Manuel recently to No. 2 in his quarterback rankings."Who would I be betting on in this quarterback class? I decided Manuel is the guy," Mayock said. "There are enough holes in all these kids' games that if I'm going to make a mistake, it's going to be with a big, athletic kid with arm talent. He's raw, but E.J.'s got a lot of talent."
This quarterback class is anything but top heavy. That's probably going to push a player or three into the first round that normally might not be there. Manuel, not Matt Barkley, is the best bet to be the second quarterback off the board.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.