Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel has been pretty undervalued throughout his career. The established book on the Virginia-native was that he was easily goaded into forcing throws into tight coverage and was marred by his "funky" pass release.
Under the tutelage of Lions quarterback coach Todd Downing, Manuel has debunked many of the concerns, rising from a third or even fourth round pick to a player that could sneak into the high second round after a showcase performance during Saturday’s Senior Bowl – a performance where he earned most valuable player honors.
He gradually straightened his passing motion and has really maximized the value of his quick-strike approach throughout the course of the week. He ended the Senior Bowl with 7-of-10 passing with one touchdown and 76 yards, a performance that could have him on the fast track to starting in the NFL. He attributes this quick turnaround to the Lions and its offensive staff and hopes it’s enough to get his foot in the door after the NFL draft.
"I got to come down here and play and learn from the Detroit (Lions) staff," Manuel said. "It was really about taking advantage of the opportunity… Obviously, the game was for the fans. A lot of what the scouts wanted to see was during the week at practice and things like that. Obviously the game helps but it's not going to help you as much as the practice. I stayed consistent. I wanted to show that I could make throws that I could make any throw on the field and be accurate and I did that.
"It's been a lot of fun and it's been a long week. I'm not going to lie, I'm ready to go home and get back to training and get ready for the Combine and kind of breathe a little bit."
Manuel isn’t too concerned about where he slots in the overall draft picture. He said he gave it his best shot this week and that ultimately, his success is dependent on how he performs during his pro day and once he joins a professional team.
"That's just not for me to decide," he said. "I just want to get as high as possible and that a team will give me an opportunity to play for them. I had to show a great deal. I think everybody came in and wanted to show something, especially at quarterback because nobody is really slated as the No. 1 guy. I felt like that was a great opportunity for me."