Ryan Nassib QB Syracuse #12
Size/Athleticism: Adequate height. Very well built; he can take some hits without any issue. Not a serious threat to run, but Syracuse did use him on some designed runs. Elite mobility within the pocket. Climbs the pocket extremely well and has the quick feet to avoid pass rushers and buy some extra time in the pocket.
Arm strength/Accuracy: Elite accuracy on short and intermediate throws. Displays excellent timing on his throws, consistently hitting receivers in stride. Does a great job with anticipation and throwing to spots. Arm strength is adequate, but nothing special. He can get the ball down the field, but on throws beyond 25 yards he tends to put too much air under the ball and his accuracy declines slightly. Syracuse’s offense required a range of legitimate NFL throws and Nassib can make them all at an above-average level.
Footwork/Release: Impressive fundamentals in all aspects of the game. Footwork within the pocket is a real asset. His ability to maneuver within the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield will help ease his transition to the NFL and allow him to handle the increased speed of the game. Possesses an extremely quick release. His release, coupled with his pocket mobility, will help him limit sacks at the next level – a trait which many young quarterback struggle with early in their careers.
Decision making: Very patient in the pocket. Deliberately goes through his progressions and consistently makes the right decision. Rarely forces the ball into tight coverage and is willing to check down when necessary. Occasionally tries too hard to stand tall in the pocket and needs to learn when it’s necessary to simply tuck the ball and take a sack. He keeps the ball exposed for too long and lost too many fumbles as a result.
Intangibles: Soft-spoken but coaches speak highly of his leadership qualities off the field. Quickly picked up the new offense installed at Syracuse last offseason. Nassib also deserves credit for remaining confident despite an extremely weak supporting cast at wide receiver. During three games I charted from Nassib’s senior year, I counted 16 drops by his receivers, on top of multiple other instances of receivers taking a passive approach to catching the ball which allowed defensive backs to make plays. At the next level, Nassib will have significantly more success throwing down the field if surrounded by a quality supporting cast.
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: Nassib has the tools to be an above average starting quarterback. He also has the fundamentals and football IQ to start immediately and be effective as a rookie. What impresses me most about Nassib is the way in which he moves within the pocket. So many college quarterbacks either force a throw, or take off running at the first sign of pressure. Very few have the ability and confidence to move within the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Nassib lacks the elite physical tools of an Andrew Luck, but he is uniquely qualified to step into an immediate starting role. I fully expect him to have an Andy Dalton-like rookie year if given the opportunity to play immediately.
1. Offensive Line
The San Diego Chargers offensive line is in critical condition, and it’s only going to get worse if they part ways with Jared Gaither. The Chargers first-round pick is all but guaranteed to address the offensive line. Chance Warmack, Lane Johnson and Eric Fisher are all possibilities.
2. Nose Tackle
Aubrayo Franklin is an unrestricted free agent and Cam Thomas has failed to live up expectations through his first three years in the league. The Chargers need to find a solution at nose tackle in order to effectively run John Pagano’s defense.
3. Wide Receiver
Malcolm Floyd remains a reliable target for Philip Rivers, but the Chargers clearly missed Vincent Jackson this past season. The could use someone capable of playing in the slot, and also a guy who stretch the field.
1. Offensive Guard
The Tennessee Titans running game has stalled over the past few years, and while some of the blame should fall on Chris Johnson, he hasn’ t been supported by the offensive line. Steve Hutchinson is a Hall of Famer, but he’s 35 and doesn’t have much left in the tank. Chance Warmack could be an option in the first round.
2. Strong Safety
Jordan Babineaux has been a weak link in the secondary for the past few years and it’s time for the Titans to bring in some competition. Matt Elam would be an ideal replacement in the second round.
3. Tight End
Jared Cook is an unrestricted free agent and never really lived up to expectations in Tennessee. If the Titans are hoping for Jake Locker to take the next step, they need to upgrade the supporting cast around him.
Tavon Austin WR Weset Virginia #1
Size/Athleticism: Vastly undersized. Has the speed to take the top off the defense, but lacks the height to be an ideal deep threat. Teams will need to get creative in the ways they get Austin the ball, because he’s the type of receiver that needs to be open in order to come down with the football. He lacks the height and physical style of play to battle for the ball in tight coverage. Once the ball is in his hands, he becomes a running back and is a threat to pick up chunks of yardage after the catch. Frequently lined up in the backfield at West Virginia and also used on end-arounds. A dangerous weapon in the return game.
Separation Skills: Elite speed. Safeties always have to be aware of him on the field because he can get a step an just about any cornerback in man coverage. Very limited in the amount of routes he has been asked to run. Vast majority of his receptions came on quick slants and drag routes. He caught very few balls further than five yards past the line of scrimmage.
Ball Skills: Inconsistent hands. Seems to struggle hauling in fastballs (see 2011 LSU game in which ball goes through hands and bounces off helmet). Lacks the height and strength to battle for jump balls. If he’s not open, he’s not coming down with the ball. He will need to be used primarily in the slot for this reason.
Intangibles: Coaches say he developed into a leader late in his carer and became a mentor to young players on the team.
Durability: No known issues, but his lack if size definitely puts him at risk for injuries in the future.
Comments: Austin is an intriguing weapon but it’s important to not get carried away with projecting his impact at the next level. It’s easy to fall in love with his highlight-reel plays, but realistically he is only a return specialist and a slot receiver at the next level. He can definitely be a valuable weapon, but he isn’t someone to build around. What concerns me most about Austin are his hands. Slot receivers tend to drop a few more passes based simply on the difficulty to hauling in a pass with limited reaction time, compared to having time to adjust on throws further downfield and on the outside. So when a slot receiver such as Austin enters the league with questionable hands, it raises a red flag.
The Buffalo Bills have to end the carousel at quarterback. But is this the year? Geno Smith will likely be off the board before the Bills are on the clock, which would force them to reach to fill the need. Perhaps the right move will be to wait until the second or third round and bring in a low-risk prospect to compete with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
2. Inside Linebacker
The Bills need a new leader in the middle of the defense after a disappointing year by Kelvin Sheppard. This could be a position they try to fill with a veteran free agent. If they address it early in the draft, Alec Ogletree could fill the need in the first round. Arthur Brown could be a second-round target.
3. Right tackle
The Bills offensive line was much improved in 2012, especially on the left side with Cordy Glenn showing promise as their new franchise left tackle. But the ride side of the line still needs some work, and veteran Erik Pears may have to battle a rookie for the starting job. Dallas Thomas and Justin Pugh could be second or third-round options.