It's impossible to say whether the Philadelphia Eagles will pick a QB in next month's draft, but if they do they'll have done so being well informed. After holding private workouts with West Virgina QB Geno Smith and Arizona's Matt Scott (or will), head coach Chip Kelly confirmed that they will fly to Tallahassee for a workout with Florida State QB E.J. Manuel.
Manuel's stock has been on the rise since the start of the pre draft process on the back of a good Senior Bowl week and a strong combine performance. He's also got a great QB body. At 6-5, 237 he's as big any QB in the league, but he ran the second best 40 time for a QB at the combine (4.65). He's not a "running QB," but is he is fast and tough enough to run what is quickly becoming the modern offense in the NFL.
Manuel has also reportedly been very impressive in private meetings with teams displaying a high football IQ and level of maturity.
Mike Mayock has actually ranked Manuel as the #2 QB in the draft and his particular reasoning makes a lot of sense.
"This week I went and put three more tapes on, so I've seen six of his games now," said Mayock. "I liked the Clemson tape, I thought he was really athletic and threw the ball well. ... You know I don't like this quarterback class, so if I'm going to make a mistake, I finally decided I'm going to make a mistake with a kid with size, arm talent and athletic ability and I think that's what Manuel has."
There are certainly questions about Manuel's accuracy and performance under pressure, but Mayock is right that he's got very single tool you look for. Add to that the fact that he comes out of a pro style system in college (that ran no huddle 75% of the time) and his understanding at this level will be ahead of many guys not only in this class but the next one as well. So if you took Manuel this year and spent a season working with him, you could find yourself next year with a QB that's physically more suited to play QB in the NFL and who has an intimate knowledge of your system.
Plus, as I've said over and over, there's no time like the present to take a QB. You have no idea what position you'll be drafting in next year nor do you have any idea whether the draft class next year will even be any good. Need a I remind you that the discussion with this QB class was once which of Matt Barkley and Landry Jones would go #1 and which would go #2.
And when we talked about the very low financial risk of drafting Geno Smith at #4, that's magnified times 10 if you're drafting if you're taking Manuel at the top of the 2nd round.