That the Buffalo Bills were looking for a quarterback was no secret. That the one they took in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night wasn’t named Geno Smith or Ryan Nassib was. The Bills traded down to the No. 16 overall pick and pulled off a stunner — and a head-scratcher to many — by taking EJ Manuel. He was the only quarterback taken on the draft’s first night.
EJ Manuel joined Dial Global Sports with Scott Graham to discuss if he had a feeling the Bills would take him in the first round, if he believes he has first-round talent, taking his game to the next level, his biggest strengths and weaknesses and not becoming a true starter at Florida State until his junior year.
Did you have a feeling that you might be going to the Bills in the first round?:
“I did. I didn’t know that they were going to trade, but I knew something could happen in the draft, where they might go back or a different team might go back later in the first round. Or I may have went early first round. I don’t know. I’m just so excited right now.”
Did you feel like you displayed first-round talent?:
“I knew that from January up until now, things that I could control, I thought we did a great job as far as the team that I had. I had a great team at Florida State. I think, I guess it is first-round talent. I’m just so excited, I’m at a loss for words.”
How different do you think it will be playing quarterback in the NFL compared to college?:
“I think the transition will be good. I learned a lot at Florida State. … They’re going to do a great job of getting me prepared and ready to go. I’m going to go in and work hard, earn the respect of my teammates and learn from the veteran guys we already have.”
What is the strongest part of your game?:
“I think a winning ability. Whatever that is, I feel like I have the ‘it’ factor. Coach Fisher’s always told me that, and that’s something I’ve always kept in my mind. Whatever that ‘it’ is, I feel like that’s what helps us go out there and win games.”
What’s the thing you will need to work on most?:
“I think just going through learning a new offense, getting accustomed to that, learning the new protections. The verbage is going to be different. … I won’t have a problem being in that offense with (Coach Hackett) eight hours a day.”
When you weren’t playing as a redshirt freshman at Florida State, could you have imagined this?:
“I could. I always foresaw myself having a chance to go to the NFL. I think it was just a matter of working hard. And I think that’s something I did. Coach Craig got me prepared to go out there and play. I think he helped take my game from my redshirt sophomore year to my junior year, which I became the true starter. I think I really developed in that time.”