Posted: 7:58 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, 2013
By Rodger Sherman
The Buffalo Bills' first-round draft pick EJ Manuel had a five-hour meeting with new head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett before the NFL Draft, and came away "excited," before he even knew that he'd end up a Bill.
Per the team's website, Manuel visited Buffalo on April 2 to meet with the Bills' front office, where they discussed the X's and O's they plan on running in 2013:
"I had a really good feel when I came up and met with Coach Marrone and Coach Hackett," Manuel said. "... I think I picked up the offense that he taught me and I think we met for four or five hours and I think they see I fit best into what they want to do ... That’s what I’m so excited about the multiples of this offense and it’s definitely a new type of offense. It’s an innovative offense. It’s something I’m excited to work into and learn. I feel like Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson and myself we’re all at square one right now. It’s a brand new offense with a brand new staff. So I’m looking forward to getting in there and competing."
The meeting also helped to sell Hackett and the Bills' brass on Manuel, eventually deciding to make him the first quarterback off the board as they try to reshape their new team:
"You could tell he was very excited," said Hackett of Manuel. "I think that compared to what he’s done the past five years, which has been very successful for him, I think the way that we do things and the way this whole system is developed around the quarterback and it’s about him becoming successful while still trying to be complicated and diverse and multiple."
The meeting started at noon, but went so long that Hackett had to drive Manuel to a previously scheduled dinner. On the way over, they discussed what Manuel described as "off-the-field" stuff.
The Florida State quarterback wasn't expected by most scouts to go as high as No. 16, when the Bills decided to select him. But Manuel clearly has whatever attributes Marrone and Hackett are looking for in the guy set to run their offense. He's got many of the passing capabilities and the physical size of a "pro-style" passer, but was also one of the fastest quarterbacks in the draft, running a 4.65 40. If the offense they look to run truly is "multiple," Manuel's versatility might make him uniquely qualified to be a fit -- despite the way the pick was received.