8 Reasons Why Ryan Nassib Isn't the Answer for Buffalo Bills
On the surface, it seems like Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib would be a natural fit to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 2013 NFL draft. His head coach at Syracuse, Doug Marrone, is now the head coach of the Bills. His offensive coordinator at Syracuse, Nathaniel Hackett, is now in the same role at Buffalo.
To have that level of comfort with your two main bosses would be a major asset for any rookie entering the NFL. For the Bills, having a quarterback that has already been executing the offense that Marrone and Hackett wants to install would make tremendous sense. Even if he didn't win the starting job at camp, Nassib could help explain some nuances of it to whoever emerged as the Bills starter.
But for all of the reasons why the match makes sense, there are also a number of reasons why Nassib isn't the answer and that is the point of this slideshow. This is another layer of information to digest on why the 2013 draft class of quarterbacks is so difficult for general managers and draft analysts to figure out.
We will introduce eight reasons why Nassib isn't the answer for the Bills in the 2013 draft.
Lack of Accuracy and Touch
I sat down this morning and watched the Senior Bowl game to watch Nassib perform and listened to what all the draft analysts said about Nassib during the game.
From NFL Network's draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah:
Liked Nassib's strong arm and the way that the ball jumps out of his hand. However, he has issues with his touch and his accuracy.
When you think about quarterbacks in Buffalo that have issues with touch and accuracy, you immediately think of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The last thing that Bills fans want to see is Fitzpatrick version 2.0 in their new franchise quarterback. That would literally be the very definition of one step forward and three steps back.
Buffalo would probably draw more fans to take the buses in from Syracuse to watch him play, but Buffalo has had enough sold out games at home only to lose in front of their fans. Bills fans are long overdue for a top quarterback, regardless of where he is from.
Dreadful Senior Bowl Performance
In the 2013 Senior Bowl, Nassib entered the game in the second quarter in relief of Mike Glennon. Nassib led three drives in total for the North team. None of the drives ended in points, and two of them featured disastrous plays by Nassib that demonstrated his shortcomings.
In the first drive, Nassib took a low snap from center, gathered himself and threw the ball into a crowd, hoping to connect with his intended receiver. LSU LB Baccari Rambo easily stepped in front of the pass for an interception. Pressure was starting to close in, and it looked like Nassib made a rushed throw without assessing the potential danger he was throwing into.
In the second drive, Nassib had a crucial pass on a third-down conversion opportunity to keep the chains moving. He had a Western Kentucky tight end Jack Doyle wide open in the middle of the field, but the pass missed badly. Good example of where his problems with accuracy and touch came into play. North had to punt the ball away.
In the third drive, Nassib was feeling some heat from BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah. Nassib attempted to elude Ansah by turning his back and trying to run away from him. Due to Nassib's lack of foot speed, Ansah was easily able to close on him for the sack, and in the same motion, stripped the ball away from Nassib (see picture above).
One of the North offensive linemen was able to pounce on the fumble, but the play resulted in a loss of 21 yards and killed the drive.
In total, Nassib wound up completing 4-of-10 passes for 44 yards. He had no touchdowns, one interception, one sack and one fumble. He averaged 4.4 yards per pass attempt. In a word: dreadful.
Mixed Bag of Opinions on Nassib's Ability to Be Franchise QB
Ryan Nassib hasn't done enough in his college career to win over the draft analysts. Of course, let's concede that it is NFL GMs that are calling the shots, not draft analysts. But a number of these analysts, especially on the NFL Network and ESPN, were recently employed as NFL GMs, so their opinions do carry some significance (Bill Polian, Scott Pioli and Mike Tannenbaum).
In preparation for this report, have listened to and read a number of draft analysts reports on Nassib. The only person that I found who was willing to rank Nassib as the top-ranked quarterback in the 2013 NFL draft class was NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell. Watch the NFL Network video via this link. Cosell said:
"My No. 1 quarterback based on the film study I've done is (Syracuse's) Ryan Nassib. I like him overall more than Geno Smith," Cosell said Thursday on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft." "I think he's a much more precise intermediate thrower. I think the ball comes out with a little bit better velocity at the intermediate level. And I think he's a little more accurate. And I like his footwork a little bit better.
"No one here is at the (Andrew) Luck, RG3 level. Maybe not even the (Ryan) Tannehill level. At the end of the day, Nassib, at this point, would be the guy I like the most."
Cosell stands in the minority, but at least he was willing to clarify his stance. Remember that this is not thought to be a very good QB draft class, so the endorsement by Cosell should be taken with a grain of salt in regard to the big picture.
Outside of Cosell, the rest of the analysts believe that Nassib should be drafted on Day 2.
Here are some examples that demonstrate how vastly different the quarterbacks are being ranked:
Bleacher Report's NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller most recent mock draft on March 21, had the Bills taking BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah at No. 8. Miller then had the Bills taking Nassib at No. 41.
Draftek uses a computer-generated draft to come up with their mocks. They might need to give their computer a kick because in their latest mock (Version 18-C from March 21), they have Geno Smith dropping down to the Bills with the No. 41 pick. They also have Nassib going to Tampa Bay in the fourth round with the No. 112 pick.
Walter Football.com has Geno Smith going to the Bills at No. 8 and Nassib going to the New York Jets at No. 39 overall. If Buffalo misses out on Smith, the Jets could easily take Nassib at No 39. For what it is worth, they had the Bills taking USC WR Robert Woods to pair up with Smith at No. 41.
Another interesting mock draft with different results can be found at Draftsite.com. They have Smith going to Arizona at No. 7, Buffalo taking USC 's Matt Barkley at No. 8 and Nassib eventually going to the Jets at No. 106 in the fourth round. They also have Buffalo taking SMU DE Margus Hunt ("The Eastern Block") at No. 41 and Baylor WR Terrance Williams at No. 71.
With mock drafts there are no right or wrong answers, just opinions. Everybody has one, but it is useful exercise to demonstrate on how low or high Nassib could go in the draft.
Nassib Will Have Trouble Eluding NFL Pass Rush
At the Indianapolis scouting combine, Nassib ran the 40-yard dash in 5.06 seconds. He went 9'7" in the broad jump and 28.5" in the vertical jump.
Here is a link to his 40-yard dash video clip via NFL Network. With a time of 5.06 seconds in the 40, Nassib beat Rich Eisen, but he will never be mistaken for Robert Griffin III.
In the NFL, where the defensive linemen keep getting bigger, faster and stronger, the lack of foot speed in getting away from pass rushers is a genuine concern.
Other results from the combine can be found here. Nassib ran the three-cone drill in 7.34 seconds and did the 20-yard shuttle in 4.53 seconds.
When you consider that the Bills lost their best pass blocker, ex-guard Andy Levitre, to the Tennessee Titans in free agency, that requires more of a premium that the next quarterback in Buffalo be somebody that is mobile and can elude the pass rush. That doesn't bode well for Nassib going forward.
Level of Competition Concerns
One legitimate area of concern for talent scouts is to assess how challenging was the opposition the player in question faced in his conference, compared to what he will see in the NFL. The quarterback draft class of 2013 has a little bit of everything to offer.
SEC: Tyler Bray (Tennessee) and Tyler Wilson (Arkansas)
Big East: Ryan Nassib (Syracuse)
Pac-12: Matt Barkley (USC)
Big 12: Landry Jones (Oklahoma) and Geno Smith (West Virginia)
ACC: E.J. Manuel (Florida St.) and Mike Glennon (N.Carolina St.)
Mid-American: Zac Dysert (Miami Ohio)
Clearly the SEC is the conference that produces a wide array of talent that can be found up and down the first two rounds of recent drafts. The last seven NCAA championships have been won by SEC teams. If we conclude that the SEC is best, then how much further down the list should the Big East conference be ranked or judged?
Can the Bills scouts accurately gauge what they see on tape from Nassib's performances against Big East conference opponents, and then project that performance to what it would be like against NFL defenses?
If the Senior Bowl game was any indication, Nassib is a long way from being ready to assume the title of franchise quarterback. For what it is worth, Nassib started 38 games at Syracuse, and his record as a starter was 21-17. Purely as a point of comparison, E.J. Manuel was 25-6 in his 31 starts at Florida State.
Nassib's Physical Tools and Performance Issues
Here is a YouTube video where you can see how Nassib performed against USC. You will see some accuracy issues, poor decisions and inability to avoid the sack.
They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words, and in the case of this video that would be true. Syracuse lost to USC 42-29. Nassib threw for 322 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He completed 30-of-46 passes and had an average of 7.0 yards per pass.
Matt Barkley threw six touchdown passes in the game and WR Robert Woods had a field day against the Syracuse defense. Syracuse came into the game as 26-point underdogs to the Trojans.
Buffalo's Offensive Line Issues
Since Ryan Nassib is slow, he will need a clean pocket to survive in the NFL. There should be genuine concern for how well Nassib could play behind the current Bills offensive line—based on the returning veterans that remain on the roster.
The Bills lost their best pass-protector in Andy Levitre, which is an important point to consider when evaluating who is the right quarterback for the Bills to draft.
Let's examine how the Bills offensive line was ranked in 2012 by Pro Football Focus, (subscription required) along with their overall grades and pass protection scores.
T Cordy Glenn: 827 snaps, ranked No. 33 out of all NFL tackles, overall grade of 6.6 and a pass-blocking grade of 3.2. Gave up six quarterback sacks, nine quarterback hits and 17 quarterback hurries.
T Chris Hairston: 583 snaps, ranked No. 36 out of all NFL tackles, overall grade of 5.3 and a pass-blocking grade of 1.5. Allowed two sacks, four quarterback hits and 16 hurries.
T Erik Pears: 385 snaps, ranked No. 62 out of all NFL tackles, overall grade of a minus 7.3 and a pass-blocking grade of 0.4. Gave up three sacks, seven hits and four hurries.
G Kraig Urbik: 806 snaps, ranked No. 25 out of all NFL guards, overall grade of 7.3, with a pass-blocking grade of 7.6. Gave up two sacks, one hit and nine hurries.
C Eric Wood: 896 snaps, ranked No. 25 out of all NFL centers, overall grade of minus 0.8 and a pass-blocking grade of 3.5. Allowed two sacks, three hits and four hurries.
Read 'em and weep. Andy Levitre's scores from 2012. Ranked No. 9 out of all NFL guards, overall grade of 17.3 and a pass-blocking grade of 15.7. Gave up one sack, three hits and seven hurries. He will be missed.
So, there you have the rundown. The young tackles were learning on the job in 2012, and will hopefully continue to improve. Pears is a liability in pass protection and Wood has room to improve his grades. The sack totals were reasonable because Fitzpatrick got rid of the ball as fast as any quarterback in the NFL. How quickly Marrone and Hackett will require the new quarterback to release the ball remains to be seen.
If Nassib is forced to run around to extend plays, they would have a low probability for success based on what we have seen on tape.
Where Does Nassib Rank Versus the Other QB's in Draft Class?
NFL.com conducted their own draft analysis of the class of 2013. According to their scores, here is how they broke down the 2013 quarterback class, with the grade score highlighted inside the parenthesis:
Geno Smith (91), Tyler Wilson (83.5), Zac Dysert (83.5), Matt Barkley (82), Mike Glennon (79.4), Ryan Nassib (78.7), E.J. Manuel (68.7), Tyler Bray (67.8) and Landry Jones (67.2).
Nassib is 6'2" and weighs 227 pounds. He has 10 1/8" hands and his arms are 32" long. According to the NFL.com analysis, Nassib has some areas he needs to address. Here is what they wrote.
Possesses only average height for the position. Gunslinger mentality causes him to trust his arm and receivers too much, resulting in bad decisions/turnovers. Not in elite in his mobility or elusiveness outside the pocket, won’t run away from NFL defenders. Footwork is inconsistent, gets happy and actually hops around when trying to find a target. Must be more consistent transferring weight through the throw, relies on his strong arm at times and comes up short on outs or sails throws over the middle. Works nearly exclusively out of the shotgun, but has athleticism to handle plays under center.
NFL.com compared him to Jake Locker, but Locker really isn't that much different than Ryan Fitzpatrick. The bad decisions could be seen in the USC tape or from Nassib's interception in the Senior Bowl.
The other issue they pointed out is that Syracuse often played out of the shotgun. With Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in the backfield, it will be interesting to see how often Nathaniel Hackett wants his quarterback to play under center.
If Hackett thinks that could be an area that Nassib struggles with, that could be sufficient grounds for looking at a different quarterback. What will the Bills do one month from now? Will they draft the player they know the best, Nassib, or invest in a player that fits of the mold of new-wave quarterbacks entering the NFL? We will all find out soon enough.
Thanks for checking out the presentation. Follow me on Twitter—@DanVanWie