BUFFALO BILLS FIRST ROUND DRAFT SELECTION (16th Overall)
Quarterback EJ Manuel Conference Call
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Q: What is it like? To be the first quarterback of the board and coming to Buffalo—the challenge and the excitement that you face here?
A: Yes sir. I am just so excited. I am so proud to be a Buffalo Bill. I am just proud of family, all of my teammates at Florida St. and my coaches who helped me get to this point. I am just extremely proud and happy right now.
Q: Can you just speak to your relationship with Bruce Smith? I know he and your dad are pretty tight. Just his influence on you.
A: Most definitely. Bruce (Smith) gave me a lot of advice moving forward from high school to college. Now that I am a Buffalo Bill…he actually called me about Buffalo. Not saying I was going to go there, but just giving me some facts and some background on the team before I went up and met with those guys. I know Bruce is extremely excited and he sounded just as excited as I am.
Q: You had mentioned that you felt three or four teams had fallen in love with you. Did you feel that Buffalo was one of those teams and at what point did you feel that way?
A: Most definitely. I felt that Mr. Nix and the coaches liked me a lot at the Senior Bowl and then when I met with them again at the Combine, I felt the same way. And then also, when I went out and worked out for them. Then I went up for a visit. There was a lot of confirmations going on. To me, it was just more so of a matter of when they were going to take me in the Draft.
Q: When does the excitement wear off and know that you face a pretty daunting challenge to be the guy here in Buffalo?
A: Well I am definitely going to enjoy tonight. I am going to enjoy it with my family. I know there is work to be done and I am going to go work hard. Get with (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks) Coach (Nathaniel) Hackett and get ready to go.
Q: Can you talk about being mentored by Donovan McNabb and what influence he has had on you?
A: Yeah, definitely. Donovan (McNabb) has given me a lot of advice: how to handle yourself on and off the field, things to expect as a rookie quarterback, whether I am starting or not just take it that I have to prepare for it. You have to go in to work. This is your job now. It is not like college football with all I have to do all day. I am just extremely excited and ready to go.
Q: What are your thoughts of coming to a team that has really been searching for a quarterback since Jim Kelly retired and has not made the playoffs in 13 years?
A: Yeah, I think that is a challenge but I think that is something that we can all accomplish as a team. I do not think that is anything directly on the quarterback. I think as a team we all have that goal in our mind. That is what we plan on doing. I am just excited to meet my new teammates and see my new coaches again.
Q: Can you just describe why leadership seems to come to you very naturally?
A: I do not know, I just think my dad has always brought me up to be a leader as far as the decisions you make in life. Do the right thing when nobody else is watching. Going in, I am going to earn the respect of my teammates. I think the best way to do that is to work hard. Not fail a lot, but just try to learn as much as possible.
Q: What about Buffalo appeals to you?
A: Well the system that Coach Hackett was teaching me when I went up to Buffalo and met with him. That is probably what intrigued me the most. I actually called my agent as soon as I finished with him and I said, ‘Man, I really hope Buffalo takes me because I feel like I can fit into the system perfectly.’ Like I said, I am going to learn from the veteran guys they already have and just go out there to try and earn the respect of my teammates.
Q: What was so intriguing about the system when you met with them?
A: I just think the fact that it is a progression offense, but at the same time it is a quick paced offense. I think it is something that a lot of teams have not seen in the league. I know Coach Hackett is a very smart and intelligent coach. He is very innovative so I know he is going to have a lot of creative things coming up.
Q: What does it mean to you to be the first quarterback taken?
A: It means a lot. This goes down as probably the best day, the best night of my life. To be the first quarterback taken in the NFL Draft, to be a first rounder, to be taken by the Buffalo Bills considering where I started from in January to this day now is...I am just so proud and happy for the team I have and the people who helped me get to this point.
Q: How close are you to getting your degree?
A: I got my degree in Communications in December 2011. I am about halfway finished with my masters in International Relations.
Q: Knowing Coach Marrone had the relationship with Ryan Nassib, are you surprised at all Nassib was not their guy and you were?
A: Not really surprised, I am just excited. Honestly throughout this whole process I never really worried about what another quarterback was going to do or where he was going. I just focused on getting better as a quarterback for myself.
Q: What were your impressions of Buffalo when you came up to visit?
A: I felt like this is definitely a football city. I felt like the people of Buffalo truly love their team. From Florida St. playing in Tallahassee it is the same exact way, so I felt almost right at home.
Q: Do you feel like the read option is something that you can be a threat with?
A: I think so, but I think ultimately it is up to coach.
Q: Can you comment on you and OT
A: Exactly. He was actually my roommate my freshman through junior year. I was extremely excited when you guys (Buffalo) drafted him last year and to be teammates again, having Zebrie possibly protect when whenever I step out on the field—it is just going to be awesome.