Buffalo Bills Training Camp Report: E.J. Manuel

By Curt Popejoy
EJ Manuel
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s NFL, there is s tenet that grows more and more true every season: if a team wants to win, and by win I mean the Super Bowl, the play of their quarterback must be elite.

Not saying they must be an elite signal caller, but they must have the talent and the potential to play at an elite level when it counts the most. For the Buffalo Bills, it appears they finally got the memo when they selected quarterback E.J. Manuel with the 16th pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.

There comes a point where a team like the Bills have to make a splashy type of move, and this was it. The Bills have a loyal fan base, but one winning season in the last 13 is unacceptable for a team that went to four Super Bowls in the 1990’s. You can look at all those bad teams after and point to mediocre quarterback play at the heart of the problem.

So when the Bills start training camp, you can be assured that Manuel is going to be the man. He has all the physical tools any team could hope for in a quarterback: great size, nice arm, and grossly underrated athleticism.

I’ve always contended that Manuel was never handled properly during his time at Florida State and that his potential was greater than any other quarterback in this draft class. With reports out of the Bills’ OTAs that Manuel is saying the team’s offense is easier to learn than the Seminoles, it only reinforces the notion that Florida State didn’t do all they could for Manuel.

Knowing this, Manuel should be up to speed quickly and once he is comfortable in the offense, he has the tools to shine.

Training camp for Manuel is going to be key. The Bills did bring in veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb to compete for a starting spot, and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is also on the roster with NFL starting experience. Depending on how quickly Manuel develops and gets up to speed, one of these veterans could be asked to hold down the fort, so to speak.

But, any starts by any quarterback not named Manuel is going to just be filler. This team and the future of this franchise is in Manuel’s hands, and it starts this year.

Curt covers the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL draft, and college football for Rant Sports. Connect with Curt on Twitter @nfldraftboard.

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