PHOENIX – E.J. Manuel celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday by completing 67-of-70 passes at his Florida State University pro day, in front of reps from 30 of 32 NFL teams.
Not that that stat should have raised anybody’s eyebrows, the quarterback with the fastest-rising draft stock said in a telephone interview afterward from Tallahassee, Fla.
“I had a great day — a great performance,” Manuel said. “But I talked to (NFL Network draft analyst) Mike Mayock after, and I told him there’s no reason not to be 95% and up at your pro day, completions wise. It’s easy.”
Two weeks ago, Mayock raised Manuel to No. 2 on his Top 5 quarterback rankings for the April 25-27 draft.
NFL teams are fast arranging pre-draft interviews with the former Seminole.
He had dinner Monday night in Tallahassee with Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner.
On Tuesday after his pro day workout, Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor and other talent evaluators from that club grilled him.
“The dinner with Pittsburgh was more to get a feel for the kind of guy I am,” Manuel said. “It wasn’t really about the X’s and O’s — it was more so about getting accustomed to each other, maybe, and forming a relationship.
“The meeting with the Dolphins afterward was pretty much on the board, watching film with those guys, talking through our offence.”
What’s more, Manuel has a private workout scheduled for Saturday with the Jacksonville Jaguars — who pick No. 2 overall in the draft.
Then he’ll have dinner with Buffalo Bills reps on Sunday night in Tallahassee, before working out for them on the field on Monday. The Bills pick eighth overall.
“I’m pretty sure the Bills will have me on the white board. I’m certain they’ll have me on the practice field throwing whatever kind of throws they want me to do,” Manuel said.
“Maybe they’ll have me throwing a wet ball. The weather is kind of tough up there in Buffalo, but the good thing is I grew up in Virginia. I know it’s not Buffalo, but I’ve played in cold weather — snow, rain, whatever — so that won’t be a problem. I have big hands as well.
“I’m going in with an open mind. Whatever they want me to do, I plan to go out there and do it. If they want me to do some zone-read stuff — whatever they want, I can do it for them.”
A source said Manuel has a later meeting arranged with the Bills, as well. Perhaps that one will be in Buffalo.
The Bills on Friday are bringing in Geno Smith, most draftniks’ No. 1 rated quarterback.
As for other clubs, Manuel said he has private workouts scheduled soon with the Philadelphia Eagles (who pick fourth) and Arizona Cardinals (who pick seventh).
Obviously, it’s no surprise that teams bereft of much quarterback talent are taking a closer look at the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Manuel.
“That’s a great feeling, knowing that teams are really considering you, or taking you seriously … I expect that I will get drafted pretty high.
“Obviously, like any other guy in the draft, I hoped to get picked first. But the fact of the matter is, all I can do is continue to impress them. Throw the ball well, meet well with the teams, and just be honest about the type of person I am, and football player I am too.”