Drafting E.J. Manuel over Ryan Nassib was a tough decision for the Bills staff, especially for coach Doug Marrone. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)
Over the last week leading up to the 2013 NFL draft, the world seemed totally convinced that former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib would be reunited with his former head coach, Doug Marrone. Most mock drafts leading up to last Thursday had the Bills taking either Nassib, USC quarterback Matt Barkley, or Alabama guard Chance Warmack. But leave it to Bills general manager Buddy Nix and his staff to keep their true intentions hidden from the media right up until draft day.
After trading down from pick 8 to 16 in the first round, the Bills stayed in place and took Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel. Depending on who you talked to, Manuel could have been graded anywhere from a second-round to a fourth-round prospect. But the Bills did more than their due diligence and wasted no time going for the guy they think will be their franchise quarterback.
For Marrone, the decision to not bring in his Syracuse quarterback must have been terribly hard. Marrone sounded split emotionally after the Bills decided to move forward with Manuel when speaking with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.
“In one sense, you study all the quarterbacks and you get the one you believe is the best one, and you’re happy. You’re ecstatic,” Marrone said. “In another sense, you’re hurting about Ryan. And it did hurt. You’re hurting in a different way for the other quarterbacks too, because you spent a lot of time with them too, and there was a lot to like about all of them. But with Ryan, it was very difficult after what we did together. It hurts. It definitely hurts. He’s a special kid. Unbelievable worker. So smart. Very, very good quarterback with all the intangibles. He will win games in this league.
“The responsibility I had was to get the best player we could get. There are a lot of people relying on me to get the best players we can get here — all the people in the organization and all the fans who buy tickets to see us play.”
Nassib was also “more than ‘a little disappointed’ ” according to King, and understandably so. Nassib and Marrone worked together to restore respect to a Syracuse football program that hasn’t had much success in recent times. Nassib ended up being drafted in the fourth round by the New York Giants.
With this decisive draft day move, the Bills have placed a lot of faith in E.J. Manuel. This was the kind of decision that will either make guys look like geniuses, or cost a lot of people their jobs. But as always, we have constant reminders that the NFL is a business, and this is just another one of those instances.
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