Although he might not as well-known or hyped as Geno Smith, EJ Manuel turned a strong college career into a starting NFL job and has caught the attention of many collectors. The former Florida State quarterback was arguably the best rookie quarterback, and is locked in as a starter for the Buffalo Bills. As a result, EJ Manuel is among the top rookie card options in 2013.
EJ Manuel played all four seasons of college football at Florida State University. However, his first two seasons were spent largely filling in for an oft-injured Christian Ponder. Once Ponder left for the Minnesota Vikings, Manuel got his shot as the starter. He lead the Seminoles to two straight bowl wins and a 12-win season during his Senior year. EJ Manuel furthered his NFL profile when he was named the MVP of the 2013 Senior Bowl. With several names slotted ahead of him, it was quite a shock when the Buffalo Bills selected EJ Manuel with the 16th overall pick, making him the first quarterback taken. While many questioned the choice, Manuel played well in the first preseason game and seemingly locked up the starting spot. Despite undergoing surgery in the preseason, Manuel was still the week one starter. Although he battled injuries throughout his first season, there were a lot of positives for Manuel.
Unfortunately, Buffalo does not have a ton of talent around EJ Manuel. The Bills' main running back, CJ Spiller, is one of the few bright spots and he, along with wide receivers, Robert Woods and Stevie Johnson, help take some of the pressure from the young quarterback. At this point, Manuel won't sneak up on anyone, but playing in a market like Buffalo will allow him him to float under-the-radar more than other players. This might allow him more time to develop before he is expected to start producing wins.
EJ Manuel Rookie Card Guide
Please note, this is an ongoing list that will be added to as more 2013 football card sets are released and EJ Manuel has more rookie cards.
Without the small Buffalo Bills logo, you might not even know this is an NFL-licensed card. As one of the first football products, Topps was not able to use college logos and did not have any NFL photos to work with. Although it is not the ideal image, the early release gives collectors something to chase well before the season officially starts.
Bowman Sterling is a great option for collectors who want a premium-looking card for a budget price. The dark background does seem a little bland, but it allows the image of Manuel to pop off the card.
Absolute gives collectors a variety of options, as two cards are included in the main set, each with a ton of parallels. The base card is numbered to 199 and there is also an autographed jersey card that is limited to 299.
EJ Manuel's rookie card in 2013 Certified Football comes in the New Generation subset. This heavy foil card draws attention to the image of Manuel and washes out everything else. The base version is numbered to 999, but plenty of parallels allow collectors a shot at less common options. More popular, Freshman Fabrics brings autographed cards into the mix
Despite coming from a mid-level product, Contenders Rookie Tickets are some of the top overall EJ Manuel rookie cards available. The on-card signature, nice design and possibility for short prints make both the base version, on the left, and the variation, on the right, collector favorites.
Panini Elite features a refined design that includes a large foil border. With a print run of 699, it is limited enough to be one of the few numbered base cards, but there are enough cards available to keep prices reasonable.
Despite featuring a red-orange color on the primary rookie card for Manuel, Limited makes solid use of the Bills' color scheme and the card looks good. The card includes a sticker autograph, larger jersey piece and print tun of 299.
Easily one of the most low-key designs. the Momentum EJ Manuel rookie card includes a lot of white and not much else. This helps make Manuel the focus of the card and provides collectors with a great low-end option. Momentum also offers a signed version, as well as a autographed jersey card for Manuel
Playbook is yet another example of multiple EJ Manuel cards included in the base set. With a very low print run of 49, the base autograph of Manuel is quite rare and includes a sticker signature. Featuring a better overall look, the Rookie Booklet Signature card is numbered to 299 and includes several parallels.
In case there was any question, EJ Manuel is a ROOKIE. Subtlety aside, Prestige sacrifices style to be among the first products of the season. Further depth is added to the base set with variation cards. The base card includes an action shot of Manuel, while the variation shows Manuel on draft day.
2013 Prizm brings collectors several options for collecting EJ Manuel rookies. In addition to base and signed versions, there is also a Rated Rookie manufactured patch that is found only in retail packs.
While the pose in the image is a common sight for quarterback cards, it does paint a stoic picture of EJ Manuel. This simple card can easily be lost in the rookie card shuffle, but the understated design will appeal to collectors who are looking for a plain base rookie card. Also, a whopping six autographed cards are available and each numbered to 102. This includes Rookie Class Letters, Rookie Helmet, Field Plates, Rated Rookie Patches, Gridiron Gems and Team Logo Patch.
EJ Manuel's Rookies and Stars card gives special attention to the last name so that there is no confusion regarding who is on the card. The large red text on the side is an odd choice. Multiple autograph and jersey options are available and the base version is numbered to 299.
This blast from the past shows collectors what an EJ Manuel rookie card from 1989 Score would look like. Retail red and blue parallels offer collectors more options, as well as a signed version.
Deep colors help contrast the bright silver foil of the Select design. EJ Manuel has both a base version and autograph jersey card with a sticker signature.
Playing off the Score design, Panini Stickers bring collectors a simple sticker rookie card, complete with subtle rays imminating from EJ Manuel
Like the standard 2013 Certified product, Totally Certified features a base card in addition to an autographed jersey card for EJ Manuel. The sticker is well-incorporated into the design and the many parallel colors have proven quite popular.
Although it is a low-end product, the flagship offering from Topps will remain a preferred EJ Manuel base card for collectors. Short print variations provide an additional dose of excitement. The base card on the left shows a running Manuel, surveying the field. The variation on the right features EJ Manuel preparing to throw. Both the base and variation cards have autographed versions.
Arguably the most popular budget offering, Topps Chrome brings the familiar Chromium finish to EJ Manuel collectors. Manuel is also among the 55 variation cards found in 2013 Topps Chrome and can be seen on the right. The base card also includes an autographed option.
Finest remains a top card because of its bold designs and Refractor parallels. This EJ Manuel rookie card makes good use of the red and blue color scheme from the Bills.
As the first official autographed EJ Manuel rookie card, this will remain a top option for the foreseeable future. The on-card signature and solid design adds further appeal. However, the dark on dark color scheme does have a tendency to dominate the card and obscure the signature.
Not a popular as the baseball version, 2013 Topps Mini Football is simply the flagship product, but in a smaller size.
Some designs work better than others and the 2013 Topps Platinum rookie card for EJ Manuel is an example of one that works. The Refractor-finish gives the card a high-end look and the background design enhances the card, rather than being a distraction.
2013 Topps Prime treats collectors to both a hobby base and retail base version for EJ Manuel. The card design incorporates an image of Manuel with a large blurry field background. There is also an autographed version of the hobby card, with the main version numbered to 130.
Similar to Topps Prime, 2013 Topps Strata brings collectors hobby and retail base rookie card for EJ Manuel and a signed version of the hobby base card. The complex background does distract somewhat from the focus of the card, but the colors work well together.
Numbered to 99, Topps Triple Threads is one of the rarest EJ Manuel rookie cards. Triple jersey pieces and a sticker autograph make this an appealing collectible.
An intriguing off-beat budget rookie, 2013 Topps Turkey Red utilizes a red-orange border and added wear to give the card a vintage look. There is also a variation card, which can be seen on the right.
Notable Non-NFL Licensed Cards
Seminole Nation is on full display in this early EJ Manuel card. As an insert in 2012 Exquisite Collection, this card carries the Exquisite brand and low print run of 175.
The autograph and jersey piece make this one of the top Upper Deck cards for EJ Manuel collectors. However the lack of an NFL license and print run of 475 will keep prices lower.
2013 Ultimate Collection brings the ornate Ultimate look to the Florida State alumnus. The base EJ Manuel rookie is lined with foil and limited to 99, while the Ultimate Rookie Signatures offers ample signing space and print run of only 75.
With so many posed photos, a full live-action image can be very refreshing. This base Upper Deck card includes EJ Manuel and the Seminoles battling Clemson, and a short print card shows Manuel in the middle of a pass.