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The saga of EJ Manuel is an interesting one to say the least. Backing up future first round pick Christian Ponder, he was thrown into the fire multiple times when Ponder was injured. Manuel led the Florida State team to multiple wins, but never fulfilled the promise of Florida State’s preseason rankings. What does that all mean for his stats? Nothing, but it makes Manuel all the more interesting as a prospect. Does he get a lower grade in the draft because of people’s perceptions? Is he worthy of something higher?
As always: these stats are based off of me watching game film and writing down the factors that go into a play. I marked down where the ball was caught, what the formation was, why the ball was incomplete and many more factors. In each section, I’m going to post the relevant chart and then make comments on it.
Where is He Throwing the Ball?
- He didn’t throw deep very often. Between the 11-20 and 20+ yard zones, Manuel only threw past 10 yards 26% of the time. This ties Matt Barkley for the lowest in the last two classes.
- Most of that was a factor of him not going to the 11-20 zone often. He was actually close to average in how often he threw 20+ yards, but threw in the intermediate zone 10% of the time less than the AvgQB.
- EJ threw within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage 52% of the time. Again this ties Matt Barkley for the highest within these zones in the last two classes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we have to check out his accuracy to ensure those aren’t the only locations he can throw.
How Accurate Is He?
- This is where it gets interesting. Manuel completed 73.33% of his passes in the 11-20 yard range. This would be the second highest in the last two classes behind RGIII. However, as we saw above, he hardly ever threw there. Does this make it a fluke or was Jimbo Fisher’s offense keeping him from reaching his full potential?
- However, when he had to throw past 20 yards, his completion percentage fell. This is what makes me think the 11-20 yard completion percentage is a bit of an anomaly. You aren’t able to throw intermediate passes extremely well and then suddenly become below-average at deeper balls. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
- His shorter zone accuracy was quite good. He was hitting average to above average in the 1-10 yard routes, which isn’t anything to complain about. His 6-10 yard completion accuracy is the highest in the last two classes, besting Andrew Luck for the highest. If he can capitalize on that in the NFL, I guarantee an OC can find work for him.
Where Did His Incompletions Come From?
- His receivers were excellent. At least in terms of not dropping the ball. The drop rate of 4.59% is below average for the majority of NCAA squads.
- The lack of throws into double coverage is a positive. There’s no epically bad decision making going on, with a .92% rate that means we only saw 3-4 passes into double coverage all year.
- Manuel’s overthrows and throws into single coverage are about average. His throws into single coverage is about 1.5% higher than the average for this class, but that’s not something to be worried about.
Any Other Positive/Red Flags?
- A large percentage of Manuel’s yardage came in the 3rd quarter. I’m not sure what this means, but 44% of his yardage came in the 4th quarter. This statistic is usually a function of how often a team is ahead or behind in a game, so it’s probably nothing except the flow of FSU’s game.
- His completion percentage under center and in shotgun are relatively even. It’s not even really worth posting the chart, he’s solid in both formations which bodes well for an NFL career. You don’t want to see a tendency to be bad in one formation and good in another going into a new offense.
Like Nassib, EJ statistically grades out as one of the better QBs in the draft. This of course is why we use statistics to complement film study, but like Nassib it gives me a little pause. Even given that his receivers clearly gave him a lot of help, he still comes out with some of the best completion percentages among the zones. There really aren’t any huge red flags on Manuel statistically. We can worry a little bit about the fact that his deep ball is around 42%, but Tannehill’s last year graded out at 33%.
It’s interesting that thus far, the ‘top tier’ QBs are the ones that have come out with more statistical red flags than either Nassib or Manuel. For instance: Glennon has a huge amount of overthrows, Smith throws into double coverage a lot, and Wilson underthrows the ball often. However, we look at Manuel and don’t see anything that is truly concerning. This doesn’t make him the top pick by any means, but we have to then go to the tape to find what’s causing his draft stock to be lower.
If you’ve found this kind of thing interesting, you can follow me at Follow @NU_Gap. I do work pretty much every day breaking down prospects and I’ll be tweeting out interesting stats that I come across , future articles/breakdowns (CBs are most likely next), or let you know when I post new things (Tavon Austin individual breakdown) . Thanks a lot!