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Bills' EJ Manuel not likely to sit long in rookie season

EJ Manuel may not be ready to start for the Bills, but it's still more likely than not that we'll see him doing exactly that at some point in 2013.

Al Messerschmidt

After months of speculation, the Buffalo Bills did what many fans hoped they'd do in the 2013 NFL Draft: picked their franchise quarterback. The next question, of course, becomes whether or not EJ Manuel will start any games as a rookie.

For years, a long-held NFL ideal was to pick a quarterback and let him sit for a year (or more) behind an established starter to learn the proverbial ropes and ease into the starting job. Within the past decade, however, that ideal has evaporated; of the 31 quarterbacks drafted in the first round between 2003-2012, just seven sat on the bench for their entire rookie season. That's compared to 17 quarterbacks that started at least 10 games as a rookie.

Carson Palmer sat for an entire season behind Jon Kitna in Cincinnati - who went 8-8 in 2003 - before starting 13 games in 2004 and leading Cincy to the playoffs in 2005.

J.P. Losman, the last Bills quarterback picked in Round 1 prior to Manuel this past weekend, was one of those seven quarterbacks to sit for a full rookie season. He rode the pine as Drew Bledsoe led the Bills to a 9-7 record, just missing out on a playoff berth. Losman was handed the starting job the following season after Bledsoe's release.

In that same 2004 draft class, Philip Rivers sat for two full years behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. San Diego went 12-4 and 9-7 back-to-back (with one playoff berth), and Rivers took over the starting job after Brees was allowed to bolt to New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent.

The following year, Green Bay snagged a sliding Aaron Rodgers in the first round, and he sat behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre for three full seasons. Favre led Green Bay to 4-12, 8-8 and 13-3 records before departing, with Rodgers taking over the full-time starting job in 2008.

Picked right after Rodgers, Jason Campbell sat for a season in Washington as Mark Brunell led that team to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance. Campbell started seven games in his second season in 2006.

In 2007, Cleveland picked a sliding Brady Quinn in the first round, and were it not for the blip season from Derek Anderson (who made the Pro Bowl and led Cleveland to a 10-6 record that year), Quinn very well may have seen playing time as a rookie. He started three games the following season in 2008.

Most recently, Jake Locker sat for a season in Tennessee as veteran acquisition Matt Hasselbeck led the Titans to a 9-7 record and nearly into the playoffs in 2011. Locker took over as the full-time starter in 2012, making 11 total starts.

Here's the list of every first-round quarterback picked within the past decade (including Manuel), along with the number of starts each made in their rookie season. Bottom line: whatever the plan is for Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett as far as bringing their rookie quarterback into the fold, there's still a better chance than not of seeing Manuel starting for the Bills at some point in 2013.

Year Pick Player Team # Starts
2003 1 Carson Palmer Bengals 0
2003 7 Byron Leftwich Jaguars 13
2003 19 Kyle Boller Ravens 9
2003 22 Rex Grossman Bears 3
2004 1 Eli Manning Giants 7
2004 4 Philip Rivers Chargers 0
2004 11 Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 13
2004 22 J.P. Losman Bills 0
2005 1 Alex Smith 49ers 7
2005 24 Aaron Rodgers Packers 0
2005 25 Jason Campbell Redskins 0
2006 3 Vince Young Titans 13
2006 10 Matt Leinart Cardinals 11
2006 11 Jay Cutler Broncos 5
2007 1 JaMarcus Russell Raiders 1
2007 22 Brady Quinn Browns 0
2008 3 Matt Ryan Falcons 16
2008 18 Joe Flacco Ravens 16
2009 1 Matthew Stafford Lions 10
2009 5 Mark Sanchez Jets 15
2009 17 Josh Freeman Buccaneers 9
2010 1 Sam Bradford Rams 16
2010 25 Tim Tebow Broncos 3
2011 1 Cam Newton Panthers 16
2011 8 Jake Locker Titans 0
2011 10 Blaine Gabbert Jaguars 14
2011 12 Christian Ponder Vikings 10
2012 1 Andrew Luck Colts 16
2012 2 Robert Griffin III Redskins 15
2012 8 Ryan Tannehill Dolphins 16
2012 22 Brandon Weeden Browns 15
2013 16 EJ Manuel Bills TBD