The familiarity factor between Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib and his former head coach/new Bills head coach Doug Marrone cannot be ignored, and could move Nassib a little bit higher on the Bills' board.
There are bound to be some dissenting opinions in that regard.
As of right now, Nassib's stock has him somewhere between the best quarterback in the draft and a second-round pick—to offer just a glimpse into the polarizing opinions on Nassib. At the very least, his stock seems to be on the rise. He was the Senior Bowl's top performer at quarterback, according to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller:
He showed off a strong arm and validated film study that shows great velocity, quick feet and some ability to make plays outside of the pocket. Nassib does a good job squaring to throw when forced to move his feet.
Not only did he improve in each of his three years as a starter, but he posted career highs across the board: completions, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, interceptions and passer rating.
Now, his stock continues to rise with his performance at the Senior Bowl.
Drafting him seems like an easy decision, right? If Marrone wants to implement a similar offense to what he utilized at Syracuse, who better than his quarterback at Syracuse to run the offense?
In the minds of some, many. In the minds of others, none. That also depends on how much you value the familiarity aspect. Either way, opinions of Nassib are all over the map.
Russ Lande of NationalFootballPost said Nassib is, "the best quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft and worth drafting with the first overall pick." In conversation, Miller told me he "wouldn't touch him in the first round," despite his performance at the Senior Bowl.
He did, however, earn high regard from BuffaloBillsDraft.com, who said he showed the most this year of any college quarterback:
He needs to go to a team that has a strong offensive coordinator and QB coach who can help continue his development and help him smooth out some of his rougher edges. Nassib needs to continue to learn how to go through progressions and work on identifying the defense pre-snap so he knows what to do with the ball post-snap.
In the end Nassib gives you a QB with that classic gun slinger mentality. He’s going to make some throws that are going to put you in a position to win a game and he’s going to make some throws that could cost you a game. Up until this year you never knew which one of those throws you were going to get on any given drop back but now he’s taken that next step further and seems destined to become a starter in the NFL one day.
So, a lot remains unclear about Nassib's prospects of becoming the Bills' next quarterback, and that should clear itself up in the next 80 days as we wait for the draft.
One thing is already clear as day: there will be a "next quarterback" in Buffalo very soon.
Less than 12 months after giving quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a six-year, $59 million extension, Buddy Nix began repeatedly pronouncing his desire to leave the Bills with a franchise quarterback of the future.
"Listen, we have said from Day 1, that we want to draft a good young quarterback," Nix told WGR 500 SportsRadio in November.
"I mean, if a guy's there—I keep saying that, and there'll be one out there," he told WGR in December, "then I think we'll target—as I've said before—drafting a good quarterback."
Whether it was all rhetoric remains to be seen, but Fitzpatrick is owed $4.25 million in non-guaranteed money and $10.45 million overall in 2013, so the chances he returns to the team at that price tag are slim, given his performance over the past two seasons.
If the Bills want to move away from Fitzpatrick without stepping into completely uncharted territory, Nassib would be a good "safe" move for them.
One thing the Bills can be sure they're getting is someone who is dedicated to getting better. We've seen the statistical evidence of it in his time at Syracuse, but in order to improve on the field, he had to pay attention to all the details in practice and the film room. B/R Bills featured columnist Chris Trapasso talked to former Syracuse defensive back Max Suter, who gave some insight into some of Nassib's best attributes:
Ryan was definitely a student of the game. He always was in the film room, always was there doing as much as he could to learn about an opponent. Another thing, Ryan was just always there for his players. Anytime anyone needed anything, he was there to help out. Ryan was a great team player. ...With Ryan, he would do anything he can to be the best player he can be.
Marrone and Nassib did a great deal of growing together at Syracuse.
The next growth could be from the college ranks to the big leagues.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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