West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was predicted by many analysts to be the first quarterback selected in Thursday’s NFL draft, but surprisingly, the Buffalo Bills selected E.J. Manuel over Smith with the 16th overall pick.
“There was a lot of confirmation going on for me, so it was more so a matter of when they were going to take me in the draft,” Manuel said. “I’m going to enjoy tonight. I’m going to enjoy my family, but I know there’s work to be done.”
Manuel, who was the only quarterback to be taken in the first round, will now become the new face of the Bills franchise, which has not made the playoffs in 13 years.
Manuel was 25-6 in his four years with the Florida State Seminoles. He has a strong arm, throwing 263 completions out of 387 passes for 3,397 yards. In addition, he passed for 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 14 starts during his senior season.
However, many believed that Smith was the overall best quarterback in draft, but he left disappointed Thursday night before the last two picks in the first round.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who knows the feeling of being alone in the green room on draft night, offered words of encouragement to Smith via Twitter. Rodgers told Smith to hang in there; good things come to those who wait.
Rodgers slipped all the way to No. 24 before former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called his name in the 2005 NFL draft.
ESPN initially reported that Smith decided to leave New York and not return for the second day of the draft. But ESPN insider Adam Schefter tweeted Friday morning that Smith had decided to attend the draft tonight at Radio City Music Hall.
If Smith finally hears his named called, he will have the opportunity to walk across the stage in his tailored suit and hold up a jersey for his prospective team.