Foles is an interesting case as he had a tremendous rookie training camp and came in to start towards the end of the 2012 season. While having his ups and downs, Foles showed some promise that he could lead a franchise but, due to the small sample size, the jury is still out. Foles is not mobile outside of the pocket which means he is no threat to run despite his rushing touchdown against Tampa Bay. Kelly’s decision about whether to move forward with Foles as “the guy” or bring in more mobile quarterbacks is going to be the primary question of the offseason.
One player that has been mentioned as a possibility for the Eagles since Kelly’s hiring has been Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel. The 6’4” 236 lbs. Manuel has been on display all week in Mobile, Al. as he prepares for the Senior Bowl. He reportedly met at length with Kelly and the Eagles, who have spoken with many of the quarterbacks including Malvern Prep product Ryan Nassib of Syracuse.
What makes Manuel so attractive for a guy like Kelly? This isn’t the first time that Kelly has scouted Manuel. In high school, Kelly was recruiting the Virginia product to play at Oregon until ultimately he made the choice to stay on the East Coast. Unlike some other mobile quarterbacks (Vick, Russell Wilson, even Pat White), Manuel has incredible size to go along with “top-end” speed. For a mobile quarterback, that is definitely a major plus.
The most impressive part about Manuel is his mobility. He can avoid rushers off the edge and extend plays with his feet. More times than not he can make the first defender miss in space and as good speed when running in the open field. That is a major plus for a guy like Kelly who is used to running a fast paced offense at Oregon. Manuel has taken some hard hits in college and kept coming back. He rushed for 310 yards and four touchdowns last season for Florida State.
The NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers are riding mobile quarterback Colin Kaepernick to the Super Bowl. They showed just how lethal an offense can be when using a rush option. Kaepernick has shown the ability to read a defense and decide whether to hand the ball to running back Frank Gore or keep it himself. He rushed for 181 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round two weeks ago. Mobile quarterbacks can succeed if used properly and it looks like Manuel would fit Kelly’s system if he opts to go that route.
Kaepernick was selected in the second round while the Seahawks’ Wilson was selected in the third round. Manuel projected to be a second/third round pick but his stock is rising rapidly after interviews and workouts in Mobile. Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager now has Manuel as a first round pick going seventh overall to the Arizona Cardinals. That seems a little steep at the moment and a lot can happen between now and the draft. Manuel looks like he would be a fit for Kelly if he brings his system from Oregon to the Eagles but, if Kelly goes a different route, Nick Foles might be the man leading the huddle in 2013.
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