Watching Manuel's Week 10 performance on Game Rewind, I was immediately struck by his habit of staring down his first read before settling for a check down. He's managed to avoid turnovers due to this penchant, but it also led to a minuscule 3.97 yards per attempt average against the Steelers -- a figure that is worse than 97 percent of all single-game performances in the NFL over the past four seasons.
As NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell is wont to say, Manuel is a "see it, throw it" passer. There's little anticipation to his game. He waits for his receivers to break open before he pulls the trigger.
Manuel's footwork and mechanics are also a work in progress. On plays in which he has tested the defense, Manuel's ball placement has been exceptionally erratic. His accuracy on throws of 20-plus yards is 33rd out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
That's not to say Manuel can't develop into a franchise quarterback with the proper guidance from a quality coaching staff. At this point in their respective rookie seasons, though, Smith is the more advanced passer.