The Buffalo Bills’ defense has been inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they’ve transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. Some players throughout the front seven that were productive in Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz’ defensive schemes that were based on 4-3 concepts haven’t been able to replicate that success in their new roles. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Penn State Defensive End Carl Nassib.
Previous Prospect Breakdowns
Oklahoma State EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah
The former West Chester native comes from a big football family – brother Ryan started at Syracuse and currently backs Eli Manning up on the Giants, dad Gil played at the University of Delaware, where his younger brother John is a defensive end – but the 2015 NCAA leader in sacks had to walk on at Penn State. Coming into his senior year, of High School, Carl tipped the scales at a whopping 215 pounds, but was dogged in his determination to get noticed.
Nassib received a preferred walk on offer in 2011 and red-shirted. Not seeing action in 2012, Nassib worked to earn the respect of Bill O’Brien, who gave him a scholarship in 2013. Over the course of his time at Happy Valley, Nassib would go on to gain 55 pounds in that span.
Nassib’s Sophomore and Junior years were nondescript – a combined 19 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 pass breakups. Prior to his redshirt Senior year, Nassib excelled as a selfless special teamer, to the point his scholarship was earned for that “dirty work” he willingly embraced. During Nassib’s Senior season however, it all came together.
The now 6’7, 272 pounder amassed 15.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles (both NCAA leading stats), 19.5 tackles for loss and a crazy pick (which you’ll see below) in 11 games. Nassib also did this in 11 games, despite missing essentially November’s PSU schedule with a hamstring injury.
In addition to all of the plaudits for his on field achievements, being a graduate of “Walk On U” is something that resonates with a lot of players. From Clay Matthews to Ziggy Ansah to JJ Watt, the NFL is littered with stars that started at the bottom and worked their way up. Finally, Nassib from all accounts is “just a good dude” – who will hang out with a child with down’s syndrome with a smile just as eagerly as one of his teammates.
Carl Nassib’s Athleticism
Nassib is a work in progress, so while he exhibits solid athleticism, there are issues he has to work on. First of which is breaking down in space. Nassib in this clip does everything right – maintains his gap, sheds the block when he realizes where the run is going, etc – but then when it’s time to pull the trigger on the back, it’s akin to me slamming the square button on Madden and praying I get the tackle animation to start:
Yeah. That’s rough. However, Nassib’s a coachable guy and learning to be a better athlete in this case to me is something I’d focus on moreso than the whiff.
This next clip is another that’s been bandied as a low-light (for good reason) – however, I think if you look a little closer there’s more going on:
Look at how he’s flat on the first few steps then dropping back. To me, the call here was for Nassib to carry the H-Back vertical and then physics took over while he realized there was a run play occurring. The play below to me is similar in that regard with a better result:
Ultimately, I think Nassib is a solid athlete, but one that is just learning how to use the super sized body he’s grown into. A line coach would love that sort of athletic clay, but that’s going to be a decision each team makes, not me.
Carl Nassib Pass Rush Ability
Nassib can rush from multiple spots, which is something that is essential for the Rex Ryan defense.
You don’t get 15.5 sacks on accident and here you can see why he did it:
Bending the edge is something he does well, and because he has worked to gain weight and make himself functional on the field – he isn’t just a muscled up guy that’s flailing his way to sacks. But, as I mentioned earlier he’ll need continued coaching to maximize his potential.
Carl Nassib Run Defense
Against the run Nassib is good, but needs improvement in terms of finishing some tackles.
This play occurred vs Ohio State after he’d been fooled on a zone read earlier. This time he stays on his assignment and gets a TFL.
This play, vs Buffalo is a great example of standing up his man, seeing the runner, shedding his block and making a TFL. I excite.
Overview/Potential Fit with the Bills
I honestly cannot gush more about how much I like Carl Nassib. While is isn’t going to be the most coordinated athlete on the team, he is an athlete. Nassib can bend the edge, get to the QB and make the offense’s life a living hell if he’s given the opportunity. On the Bills I would see him as a starter in time at 5 technique and moonlight occasionally as an SLB.
From early reports at the Senior Bowl, Nassib has continued his assault on collegiate offensive linemen, so I have hope that the traits I saw and liked at Penn State will carry over to the NFL. One year starter who killed it and goes pro scares Bills fans because of the drafting and mis-handling of Aaron Maybin, but I do not and cannot let an issue with a prior player cloud what I see when I watch Nassib.
The key, as I stated above is “in time”. If drafted by Buffalo, I would hope Rex would rotate him with a veteran and allow the coaching staff to develop him on the field and the training staff to continue his growth off it. By 2016, 2017 at the latest you’d have a solid contributor to the rotation that will be able to start and make some noise for the Bills defense.