We give an early prediction on where the Orange will land in the April NFL Draft.
Ryan Nassib has become Syracuse’s all-time leading passer and guided his squad to a 5-1 finish. He’s been in the top ten nationally in passing yards all season. The QB has a chance to eclipse 4,000 yards on the year in SU’s postseason game. He’ll have led SU to two bowl games in three years. Nassib can make the argument he’s the best Orange signal-caller ever (of course, fans of Donovan McNabb, Don McPherson and Marvin Graves may differ).
Regardless where you rank Nassib in the SU annals, he’ll also be playing at the next level. Doug Marrone gave Orange Nation whiplash when he first mentioned Ryan being drafted after SU’s loss to USC at Metlife Stadium in September. But when he brought it up again Friday in Philadelphia after the 38-20 victory over Temple, there was much less surprise.
A few years ago no SU fan could imagine Nassib playing on Sundays. But in a recent FizzCast Special we dissected how he has progressed since ’10, his first as a starter. And he’s impressing NFL scouts.
Scouts love his ability to master all the offensive systems thrown at him. He’s succeeded through many variations in just three years as a starter, including the west coast, the hurry-up and read option. It’s a testament to his versatility and work ethic. Especially in Offensive Coordinator Nate Hackett’s up-tempo, option offense this year.
Just look at his steady climb. Nassib’s completions, passing yards, completion percentage, touchdowns, and passer rating totals have all increased each of the last three years. With the ball in his hands more often than one would’ve expected, he’s been extremely productive. He’s become a better decision-maker. Scouts salivate over his NFL size as a quarterback, and his dedication off the field, whether it be film study or the classroom (Ryan is pursuing a master’s degree in Accounting).
How about being clutch under pressure? Nassib has led Syracuse to two fourth-quarter comeback wins this year, and has nine in his career. The signal caller is completing 64% of his passes and is averaging close to 100 yards in the fourth quarter this season. The Orange has scored a total of 14 offensive TD’s in the fourth quarter, Nassib has accounted for a dozen (11 passing, 1 running).
Early projections have Nassib pegged as a 2nd or 3rd round pick in April. A source very close to NFL scouts and executives tells The Fizz Ryan may even get drafted in the first depending on his combine and offseason grades. The quarterback class of 2013 isn’t a fantastic group behind Matt Barkley and Geno Smith. Might NFL teams believe Nassib can help them win right now? Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and RGIII were stars. But look at some of the other first-rounders of recent years: Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Tannehill. Couldn’t Nassib be mentioned in that group?
Is Ryan an immediate starter in the NFL? Probably not, but in 2-3 years, he can certainly be. Some team will draft Ryan by the third round and try to groom him into a starter. Some critics will point to his mediocre 2011 season when he suffered from happy-feet syndrome. But he has comfortable almost all season and led his team to a 5-1 finish, and fired up the troops at halftime in Tampa. Look at the maturity and growth he’s shown this fall, and the consistency he’s brought to the table. The scouts sure have.
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SU will have a handful of players drafted this spring. Take a look at The Fizz’s early Projected Draft.
Ryan Nassib: 2nd Round
Shamarko Thomas: 2nd-3rd Round
Justin Pugh: 2nd-4th Round
Alec Lemon: 4th-6th Round
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald