NFL Draft 2013: Ryan Nassib As The Best Prospect Is Hard To Support

USA TODAY Sports

The more NFL Draft experts look at Ryan Nassib the more they seem to like him, which means the former Syracuse star's stock could sky rocket - maybe all the way up to No. 1 overall. TNIAAM contributor Jared Smith asks: can SU fans truly support the praise?

The NFL Draft is an unpredictable thing, as we all found out last season when former Syracuse Orange defensive end Chandler Jones flew up big boards after having a sub-par final season at SU.

The ebbs and flows of the process can wear those who follow it out, as from the end of the regular season to mid-April, when teams make their first-round selections, things change so much.

Yet, despite all of the unknown, football fans still Google search the term "NFL Mock Draft 2013" at an unhealthy rate, especially when their team holds a top pick that could land a franchise quarterback.

And since early January, when FOX Sports' Pete Schrager had SU's record-breaking quarterback going No. 6 overall, it is safe to say the name "Ryan Nassib" has been Googled a ton.

On Tuesday, the search term "Ryan Nassib" probably received an uptick when National Football Post's NFL Draft expert Russ Lande rated Nassib this year's No. 1 prospect.

(No, not the No. 1 quarterback with potential or No. 1 quarterback overall, but the top guy in the entire NFL Draft.)

Of course, Lande's post and breakdown of Nassib didn't come without skepticism, the biggest coming from Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead.

McIntyre's link is to Lande's prospect rankings, which prompted him to write a post that had this graph about Nassib.

Did Nassib tear up the Big East in 2012? Sort of. He struggled on the road against Cincinnati and Rutgers. He’s technically sound, looks the part of a drop-back passer (a 6-foot-3 version of Flacco?), and he turns 23 in March.

McIntyre wasn't necessarily ripping Nassib as a player, but he was clearly making the argument: it is "absurd" to think the former SU star is the best player in the NFL Draft. Lande's rankings were an attempt to collect page views.

In an effort to maybe silence his critics, Lande first went on Buffalo's The John Murphy Show Wednesday night to defend his rankings, and then, Thursday joined ESPNCNY to discuss his breakdown of Nassib and why he thinks the way he thinks about the former SU signal caller.

"I was down at the East-West Shrine Game and a lot of different people that work in the media - that either cover the NFL and scout that work for teams - were asking if I had done Nassib, and they said what do you think - he is sort of our sleeper quarterback?

At that point I had seen two games where I wasn't grading him I was grading the opponent and I said, 'Ah, he looked OK, but he didn't really blow me away. But you know what? I am going to get him down before the Senior Bowl because I was going to see him at the Senior Bowl and I don't want to be bias positively or negatively by what I see there.'

So, the Friday and Saturday before the Senior Bowl I graded him and came away thinking he is a slam dunk first-rounder. I think when you watch film of this kid - first his mechanics, he's without question the most mechanically sound quarterback in this year's draft - his release is lighting fast, probably the fastest since Marc Bulger's came out of West Virginia.

He does a great job of maintaining balance when he throws - he doesn't lean back, he's not over extending, he throws with good stride length, he's got a live arm, he can make all the throws. He is a very, very accurate short and intermediate thrower - not only does he throw it accurately but he also does a great job of hitting guys as they're coming out of their break so they can catch it and turn up field.

He's not throwing to an opening receiver he is throwing to a spot and the timing is very good.

And what I like about him more than all of those things that I've talked about is: when guys get in his face - and it happened all the time in the games I looked at, he was under constant pressure - he did not throw the ball up-for-grabs. He would either make accurate throws or he would throw it to a fan in the seats, and that's a very hard trait to find in a quarterback.

The only thing I don't like is his deep ball needs a lot of work."

Lande, who's most up-to-date Mock Draft does not have Nassib going in the first round, admitted on ESPNCNY his next Mock Draft, which will go up sometime next week, will have Nassib as a first-rounder. He did not disclose where.

For the past few days, I've been following this story along and really didn't have much to say about it. This is what happens with NFL Mock Draft stuff and it can drive one crazy if you get too caught up in it.

However, McIntyre's "backlash" did get me thinking about how Syracuse fans may react to Lande's very positive thoughts on Nassib and the soon-to-come criticism directed towards him and Nassib.

As a fan of the Orange and Nassib, I was tempted to defend the former SU quarterback. However, I stopped myself because I believe McIntyre is right: it is crazy to think Nassib is THE BEST prospect in this year's draft.

We all know the positives Nassib can bring to a NFL franchise - and there are a lot of them - however we all know Nassib needs a lot of work.

If Nassib is the best prospect in this year's draft, then this could be the worst NFL Draft class ever.

That thought triggered another thought: is it wrong for me - as a fan - to think that?

As I stated above, I like Nassib...a lot. If my favorite NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, were to pick Nassib I'd be on board with the decision.

However, I'll admit, I'd rather have the Bills take him in the second round than with the eight-overall pick because he's not that good (yet); and as a supporter of Nassib I'd rather have him not going No. 1 overall because I don't know if he has the overall talent to support those type of expectations.

So, I ask you this: do I sound too critical of Nassib because I agree with McIntyre? Or is it OK to be hesitant about a NFL draft expert's positive feeling about him considering what we know?

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