NFL Network's Mike Mayock is considered one of the more respectable amateur scouts/draft analysts in the world of television, so the most of the media and most fans take his word to mean something. That is why when Mayock published his latest position rankings today, Twitter and NFL Network exploded with intrigue, as he named FSU's EJ Manuel the number two quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft class. Here is what Mayock had to say about Manuel climbing the QB ladder, just weeks after not being his Top 5:
"I thought he had a solid Senior Bowl week, and coming out of the combine, I felt like there was a quiet buzz among some of the teams. Not just his workout. More importantly to me, they like the kid, they think he's smart and in the meeting rooms at night, he passed that test."
"This week I went and put three more tapes on, so I've seen six of his games now. 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."
Manuel has long been talked about as a Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman target and it seemed like he would be available in a more reasonable round as a project quarterback. Now, with Mayock listing him as number 2, that would likely place him in the late-1st round, instead of the 3rd-4th round that most draftniks placed him at just a few weeks ago. That being said, Mayock is not a pro scout and teams likely have had an opinion on Manuel well before the Senior Bowl or Combine, so it could be that he still viewed in the 3rd round or possibly 2nd. Also, note that Mayock back-trailed a bit when talking about why he made the decision to name Manuel the 2nd guy on his board. He basically said he's guessing because the class is undesirable.
At 6'5" 237-pounds, Manuel is an impressive prospect with decent college experience and the ability to play the read-option. However, his decision-making and ability to handle pass rush have left questions among fans and media and most likely, pro scouts. The draft process seemingly is always fluid so it is likely projections will change has teams needs and Pro Days chug along, but still it is worth noting that Mayock went out on a limb to name Manuel a Top 2 guy.
The rest of Mayock's list includes West Virginia's Geno Smith holding on to the top spot, USC's Matt Barkley at 3, NC State's Mike Glennon at 4 (Editors note: which I find ridiculous considering he had 30 turnovers (17 INT, 13 Fumbles) last year alone) and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib and Oklahoma's Landry Jones tied for 5th.
The question is would you want the Eagles to trade back into the first round or select Manuel with their 2nd round pick? Also, what does it say about this draft class, if a guy is jumping from outside of a respected draft analyst's QB list to number two on his board?