Last year, EJ Manuel was the top quarterback in the NFL draft, and the only one to go off the board in the first round, taken No. 16 overall by the Bills. This year, one former NFL general manager says Manuel would be way, way down the list.
Former Houston and Washington General Manager Charley Casserly says this year’s draft class has at least seven quarterbacks who are better prospects than Manuel: Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Fresno State’s Derek Carr, Eastern Illinois’s Jimmy Garoppolo, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and LSU’s Zach Mettenberger.
“I’ve got a lot of guys rated ahead of him based on their college career and based on Manuel’s college career,” Casserly said, via Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. “Bridgewater, Bortles, Manziel, Carr, Garoppolo and McCarron. I’ve got them all rated ahead of EJ Manuel, coming out a year ago. And you know what? LSU quarterback Mettenberger. I’ve got him ahead of Manuel, too.”
It’s fair to point out, as some of Graham’s readers did on Twitter, that Casserly didn’t have a great track record of identifying quarterback talent during his days as a general manager: Casserly took David Carr first overall in 2002 and Heath Shuler third overall in 1994. But it’s also fair to point out, as I did on Twitter, that just because a G.M. has made a couple of bad picks in the past, that doesn’t mean he lacks knowledge about the draft evaluation process.
So, while Manuel still has plenty of time to prove he has what it takes to be a great NFL quarterback, count Casserly’s opinion as one that says this year’s draft contains a much better group of quarterbacks than last year’s. And that the teams drafting quarterbacks in the early rounds this year will end up with better players than the Bills got in Manuel.