Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib was not really on the radar of NFL scouts when the 2012 season started, despite entering his third season as the starter for the Orange. But that quickly changed in the season opener against Northwestern, as he set a school record for passing yards (482) in a game and set or tied Big East conference single-game records for completions (45) and pass attempts (66).
Nassib followed that up with back-to-back 300-yard games against USC and Stony Brook, which caused his stock to rise in the eyes of NFL Draft evaluators. His numbers were a bit up and-down over the next few games, but he led Syracuse to a three-game winning streak to end the regular season as the Orange offense averaged nearly 36 points per game over the final six games of the season.
Nassib headed into the team’s bowl game against West Virginia having already set school single-season records in pass attempts (448), completions (283), yards (3,619) and touchdowns (24), while also setting school career records in passing yards (9,060) and completions (780) along the way. The bowl game showdown with Mountaineers’ quarterback Geno Smith never really materialized due to bad weather, and Nassib himself went just 12-for-24 for 127 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, but both signal callers remain among the top prospects at their position as the pre-draft process gets going.
Let’s take a closer at Nassib’s measurements, strengths and weaknesses, and then I’ll further analyze where he might go in next April’s draft.
Weight: 228 lbs.
- Has a very strong arm, can make all the throws needed at the next level
- Shows excellent mechanics
- Has a quick release, and exhibits excellent ball placement to allow his receivers to excel after the catch
- Is very accurate throwing on the run
- Made significant progress as a senior in terms of his command of the offense and on-field production
- Shows good ability to use his eyes and ball fakes to manipulate defenders
- Does not always react well under pressure; sometimes moves when it is not necessary
- Tends to force throws and struggles to make good reads when under duress
- Is not always steady within the pocket and sometimes lacks touch on his throws from the pocket
- Is consider to be a little raw and “rough around the edges”
How Nassib performs during pre-draft workouts will have a big say in when he goes off the board in April, but right now he looks likely to be among the first handful of quarterbacks drafted and a potential second or third-round pick. All it would take is one team to get enamored with him to make him a potential first-round pick, so that is not out of the realm of possibility.
I think Nassib would be best served going to a team where he can be groomed behind a proven starter for a year or two, which would allow him to work on his weaknesses without the spotlight of having to start right out of the gate. I think a good model in that regard is Ryan Mallett, who was drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round in 2011 and became Tom Brady’s primary backup this season.
One potential element to watch is if Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone goes back to the NFL, perhaps as a head coach if one or more of the teams that has an opening after Sunday’s action has interest. Marrone would surely want a quarterback that knows his offense if he is a head coach or an offensive coordinator, and he would presumably vouche for Nassib in that regard to those with control over personnel decisions.