History suggests bleak future for EJ Manuel

EJ Manuel's NFL career is at a crossroads.

Benched Monday after posting a 6-8 record through his first 14 starts, Manuel showed poor enough play for coach Doug Marrone to turn to veteran Kyle Orton for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. If Orton plays well, the Bills may never look back.

Manuel, who sat pensive at his locker after the Bills' loss to the Houston Texans last weekend, will now have plenty more time to think about his future.

"He'll have to have some thick skin through this and you've got to fight. That's what usually happens in life. To get what you want, you're going to have to fight for it," Marrone said Monday. "I think that he'll be able to grow. I think that he'll be able to handle it well, from my conversation with him. And he'll be able to continue to grow as a quarterback."

Recent history suggests that Manuel will have a steep hill to climb if he ever wants to see NFL success -- or even re-gain his starting role.

Since 2007, no quarterback selected in the first round has recovered from a benching to again become a full-time NFL starter. The closest bids have come from Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn.

It was Tebow who stormed back in 2011 to take over for Orton, coincidentally, after Tebow lost out to Orton in training camp that season. Tebow's success was short-lived, as was Quinn's brief resurgence with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012.

If Manuel wants to buck a recent NFL trend, he'll have to carve a different path than the other eight first-round quarterbacks taken since 2007 who were also benched:

Brandon Weeden (22nd overall, 2012) -- Started 15 games as a rookie before missing the season finale with an injury. Started the first two games of his second season before an injury; started three more games after injuries to Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell. Now a backup for the Dallas Cowboys.

Blaine Gabbert (10th overall, 2011) -- Started the final 14 games of his rookie season and the first 10 games of his second season before a season-ending injury. Started the first game of his third season before missing two games with an injury; returned to start two more games before being benched. Was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, where he is currently a backup.

Christian Ponder (12th overall, 2011) -- Started the final 10 games of his rookie season and all 16 games of his second season. Started nine games his third season, missing three games with an injury, before he was benched. Remains a backup for the Minnesota Vikings.

Tim Tebow (25th overall, 2010) -- Started the final three games of his rookie season before losing his starting job to Orton at the start of his second season. He returned to start the final 11 games of that season before being traded to the New York Jets. He did not start another game as a quarterback and is currently out of the league.

Mark Sanchez (fifth overall, 2009) -- Started 62 of the first 64 games of his career (four seasons) before losing his starting job to Geno Smith. Was released after his fifth season and is currently a backup for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Josh Freeman (17th overall, 2009) -- Started the final nine games of his rookie season and his next three full seasons after that. He started the first three games of last season before being benched and later released. He signed with the Vikings, started one game, and is currently out of the league.

JaMarcus Russell (first overall, 2007) -- Started the final game of his rookie season, his entire second season, and the first nine games of his third season before being benched. Did not start another game and is currently out of the league.

Brady Quinn (22nd overall, 2007) -- Started parts of his second and third seasons for the Cleveland Browns before losing his job. Did not play for the next two seasons but returned for the Chiefs in 2012 to start eight more games. Currently out of the league.