Casserly: Seven QBs in 2014 NFL Draft rate ahead of EJ Manuel

Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, most thought there were not going to be a ton of quarterbacks taken in the first round. Those low expectations didn't lessen the surprise any when the only quarterback taken in the first round wound up being EJ Manuel, who the Buffalo Bills traded back to get in the middle of the round.

While most consider the 2014 class of quarterbacks to be much stronger than a year ago, how much so might raise a few eyebrows. Former NFL general manager and current NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly revealed just how much more he likes this year's crop of signal-callers over last year's on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft".

"I've got a lot of guys rated ahead of (Manuel) based on their college career and based on Manuel's college career," Casserly said. "[Teddy] Bridgewater, [Blake] Bortles, [Johnny] Manziel, [Derek] Carr, [Jimmy] Garoppolo and [AJ] McCarron -- I've got them all rated ahead of EJ Manuel coming out a year ago. And you know what, LSU quarterback [Zach] Mettenberger, I've got him ahead of Manuel, too."

Seven quarterbacks ahead of last year's only first rounder? Not exactly the news you want to hear if you're a Buffalo Bills fan.

To be fair, the jury is still out on Manuel as an NFL starter after he missed a little less than half the season as a rookie due to knee issues. On top of missing games, that's a lot of missed practice time, too.

The Bills obviously thought enough of him coming out of Florida State last year to take him in the first round (over somebody like Geno Smith), but perhaps it's the fact that they grabbed him where they did instead of the second round that is contributing to high expectations.

"He gained momentum because he had a terrific Senior Bowl and, like his teammate Christian Ponder, rose in the draft. I think that was a bit unexpected," Charles Davis said on "Path to the Draft". "When I look at this year's quarterbacks, I'm seeing a lot of them that might eventually go in the second round, where we probably thought E.J. Manuel would go last year. So I compare him a little more favorably than Charley does.

"With EJ Manuel's arm talent and stature, I think he rates right in there with that group we're going to talk about this year."

Manuel has admitted the difference in terms of pressure is huge for quarterbacks going in the first round versus those that go later in the draft. He might have be rated as more of a second round player but he'll still have to live up to expectations as being the 16th overall pick. Such is life in today's win-now NFL.

Between one and four quarterbacks could go in the first round in the 2014 NFL Draft, but we're sure some agents are already sending out Casserly's quote about who he has rated ahead of Manuel in hopes of boosting some player's stock. After all, there are a number of teams who could be looking to grab a signal-caller early in the draft.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.