The Buffalo Bills pulled off one of the most shocking moments of the NFL Draft‘s first round when they took quarterback E.J. Manuel of the Florida State Seminoles and not Ryan Nassib of the Syracuse Orange. We all knew that the Bills would be drafting a quarterback, and even when they traded down we assumed that it was going to be Nassib; but it wasn’t.
On the surface, Nassib to the Bills made all the sense in the world. Nassib was a three-year starter at Syracuse under Doug Marrone, the new head coach of the Bills. It was assumed by many that the quarterback that won games for Marrone at Syracuse would be the guy Marrone would choose to win games for him in the NFL. The coach has always had great fondness for Nassib, even before he broke out during his senior season as a viable NFL quarterback so the Bills drafting Nassib made too much sense not to happen.
But if we look just beneath the surface, Manuel to Buffalo shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. Although Marrone and Nassib worked well together at Syracuse, Marrone did not recruit him, as he was already in the program when Marrone took over at Syracuse. If you look at the quarterbacks that Marrone did recruit to play at Syracuse (unknowns like John Kinder and Terrell Hunt), they are more athletic and better runners than Nassib. Had Marrone stayed at Syracuse past this season, he likely would have handed the offense over to a quarterback that fits the dual-threat mold better than Nassib. Manuel is certainly more in the mold of a dual-threat quarterback than Nassib, and so it shouldn’t be a shock that he is the type of quarterback Marrone covets.
When you think about it, we all look silly for not seeing this coming. After all, the Bills gave Tarvaris Jackson a $4.5 million contract earlier this offseason and promised him a fair chance to compete to be the team’s starting quarterback job. This should have tipped everyone off to the type of quarterback Marrone was looking for, and the only quarterback available in this year’s draft that fits that mold and is worthy of being selected in the first three rounds is Manuel.
Marrone and the Buffalo front office should be commended for the poker face they put on leading up to the draft, because we all assumed that if they took a quarterback that it would be Nassib. Buffalo may have fooled all of us by picking Manuel, but if you take a closer look the move makes sense, especially considering that at the end of the day the Bills ended up with the quarterback they wanted all along.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.