Former Cleveland Browns college scout and scouting administrator for the St. Louis Rams, Russell Lande, made some news in the Kansas City market when he tweeted that there was one quarterback worth taking with the first overall pick and then followed it up with an article for the National Football Post declaring that it was …. Ryan Nassib?
The only reason I knew who this guy was is because of the bowl game in which he played against Geno Smith, which was who I was watching for. But Lande is a MUCH better football mind than myself, and about 99% of the people reading this article, so let’s take a look at what he had to say:
“1. Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse (6020, 228 and 5.05): Already rising up draft boards, NFL personnel are excited to see Nassib matched up with the best senior talent in the country. Quick and athletic to avoid pressure, re-set and make accurate throws, Nassib has NFL teams intrigued. After charting out Nassib in five games we consider him to be the best quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft and worth drafting with the first overall pick, so we are excited to see how he does in Mobile. Blessed with a strong arm, the ball bursts out of his hand and he can make 15+ yard throws with zip even when a defender is about to hit him and he cannot stride into his throw. Having played in the Big East where the defenses are not the same caliber as the SEC and some of the other conferences, NFL teams are interested to see how he does against top defenders. The big thing that Nassib must work on is his deep passing as he tends to put too much air under his throws which forces his receivers to slow up and wait for the ball. This allows the defensive back to close and make a play on the ball. He could be the story of Mobile if he has a strong week and begins climbing up into the high first round.”
Let’s just say this came as a surprise to me, and a lot of other Chiefs fans. The first I had heard of Nassib possibly creeping into the first round was from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, when he mocked Nassib to the Buffalo Bills with the 8th pick in the draft. His justification:
“New Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone comes from Syracuse, where he mentored and coached Nassib. It’s common sense to think the two would like to be reunited in Buffalo, but the mistake people make is in thinking the Bills can wait until the second round to nab one of the hottest rising names in the entire draft class.
We can all agree that quarterback is the biggest need for this team—so why not pull the trigger on the guy you know, love and trust? This may be a reach, but on my rankings, it’s no bigger reach than drafting Ryan Tannehill No. 8 overall last year.”
The frustrating part about Nassib is that hardly anyone can agree on him. Miller followed up mocking Nassib to Buffalo at #8 with putting him as his 38th best player on a big board. Even Lande’s justification about the Chiefs taking Nassib wasn’t that clear: “In 1999 Andy Reid drafted Syracuse QB D. McNabb with the #2 pick in the Draft & had great success with him, so in the 2013 NFL Draft I think Andy Reid will draft another Syracuse QB, R. Nassib, but this time with the 1st overall pick to lead the Chiefs!”
So, Nassib might go first overall because Andy Reid – who is not the General Manager by the way – wants to somehow come full-circle and take Nassib because he was successful taking his predecessor 14 years ago from the same school? Or is it because Lande truly believes Nassib is the best QB on the board?
While Nassib could very well skyrocket to the top of the draft board after a strong Senior Bowl and combine – Scott Wright from Draft Countdown said he was better than any of the quarterbacks on the South Team while Mike Mayock of NFL Network compared him to Andy Dalton because of his “intelligence and love of the game”– I’d still consider most fans at that getting-to-know-you stage. So let’s take a look at Nassib’s numbers throughout his career.
Nassib was a three year starter with the Orange, going 755/1255 (60.2%) for 8,768 yards, with 67 TDs and 27 INTs. That translates to a touchdown pass every 18.7 pass attempts and an interception every 46.5 pass attempts. Just for some perspective, WVU’s Geno Smith threw a touchdown every 14.6 pass attempts and an interception every 69.4 pass attempts on his career. For even more perspective, Matt Cassel’s career featured a touchdown every 26.9 pass attempts and an interception every 35.9 pass attempts.
As far as Nassib’s senior season is concerned, the Orange finished the year 8-5 as Nassib was 294/471 (62.4%) for 3,749 yards, 26 TDs and 10 INTs. He had a 7.96 yards per attempt average, and had a 143.3 QB Rating, good for the 35th highest passing efficiency in college football – but also below Geno Smith (6th), Matt Barkley (12th), EJ Manuel (14th), Tyler Bray (29th), Landry Jones (31st), and Tyler Wilson (34th). For the season, his numbers break down as 288.38 yards, 2 TDs and .77 INTs per game.
During the season, Nassib had two games in which he had less than a 60% completion percentage – at Rutgers (59.5%) and at Temple (57.1%) – and also had two games in which he had less than a 50% completion percentage – at Cincinnati (48.9%) and in the Pinstripe Bowl (47.8%). With the exception of the Rutgers game, three of those games, including the two under 50%, happened in the final five games of the season. In the other nine games, Nassib’s completion percentage was 66%.
When you break Nassib’s performance down to his competition, Nassib played five games against teams with top-33 defenses – Connecticut (9th), Rutgers (10th), Pittsburgh (17th), Louisville (23rd), and Minnesota (33rd) – , five defenses between 34-65 in total defense – Northwestern (47th), Cincinnati (54th), Mizzou (58th), USC (60th), and South Florida (65th) -, and then two with awful defenses – Temple (90th) and West Virginia (108th) in total defense (and no, I’m not counting Stony Brook).
Against top-33 defense, Nassib was 94/146 (64.4%) for 1,266 yards, 7 TDs and 5 INTs; that averages out as 253.2 yards, a 8.7 yards per attempt, 1.4 TDs and 1 INT per game. He went 3-2 in those games. In the next tier of competition, Nassib was 151/239 (63.2%) for 1,803 yards, with 13 TDs and 4 INTs; that averages as 360.6 passing yards, a 7.54 YPA, 2.6 TDs and .8 INTs. He was 2-3 in those games. Finally, against the bottom defenses, Nassib was 27/51 (53%) for 345 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. That comes to 172.5 yards per game, a 6.76 YPA, with 1.5 TDs and .5 INT.
Numbers never tell the whole story, but maybe they will help you understand why Nassib’s draft stock seems to polarizing. He did his best against better competition and struggled against weak competition. But hey, since when is that a bad thing? If Nassib is the guy, and proves to be so during his path to the draft, then so be it. Until then, I’ll just sit back, watch the Senior Bowl this afternoon, and see what the guy’s got.