Chip Kelly has a connection with Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel. He recruited the 6-4, 240-pound signal caller when Manuel was coming out of high school. Manuel, a Virginia native, ultimately chose FSU because it was closer to home than Oregon, but continued a relationship with Kelly.
And now, he wants to play for him.
“We had great conversations back in the day. He would call me and we would catch up,” said Manuel following Senior Bowl practice Tuesday. “When I saw him take the job in Philadelphia I was like, ‘Hey, Coach Kelly, give me a call, man.’ That would be nice. That’s kind of what I’m hoping for but whoever takes me in the draft, I’ll be happy to play for.”
Manuel completed 68 percent of his throws for 3,392 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the Seminoles this season. He also scored four times on the ground and ran for 310 yards (3.0 avg.). He is thought to have a first or second-round grade. NFL.com had this to say about him:
Physically imposing passer. Throws from the shotgun formation quite often, but is also effective on play action. Flashes the velocity to stretch the field and throw in tight spaces between defenders and on the sideline. Displays good touch on throws to each level of the field, finds receivers between defenders and drop passes over their head. Good athlete with the mobility to step up in the pocket to avoid pressure and take advantage of openings to pick up first downs with his feet. Quick release, though it often looks as though he’s throwing darts on shorter throws. Intelligent, high character team leader.
Gives opponents too many chances for turnovers by forcing throws into coverage trying to make a play. Area code accuracy – short throws are often low or wide, preventing receivers from making a play after the catch. Deep ball accuracy is uneven, as well. Gets happy feet under pressure, spins to the outside to avoid the rush. Inconsistent recognizing blitz. Must step into his throws more consistently to fully utilize his arm strength.
The Eagles met with Manuel on Monday night, as did quarterback hungry teams such as Arizona, Buffalo and Kansas City, according to a source. Some believe that the QB’s stock is going up because of the recent success of the read-option on the NFL level.
Manuel is a fan of the system that Kelly ran at Oregon, and believes he could be the fit for it on the pro stage.
“I think it’s a beautiful offense,” said Manuel. “I’m sure people are skeptical whether it will work in the NFL, but I think if you have the right guys, the right people running your offense, it can get done.
“I think it’s an easy transition. We did the option [at Florida State]. We did the spread. We did the four verticals. We did everything.”
The Eagles are meeting with a lot of players in Mobile this week, so the fact that they sat down with Manuel should not be read into too much. Right now, we know Manuel is interested in the Eagles. Time will tell if it is mutual. Howie Roseman was asked to comment on the quarterback following practice.
“You’re talking about someone who had a lot of success in his conference and throughout his career. And just a really good kid,” said Roseman. “I think for us, we’re just starting the total evaluation process, and this is part of it here at the Senior Bowl. Obviously, all of these quarterbacks have had tremendous success. That’s why they’re being able to come to a point in their career like this.”