On Thursday I posted my first 2016 mock draft, covering Dallas’ first and second-round picks. Yesterday I dove in on the first-round pick of Myles Jack and why I projected it for the Cowboys. Today I thought I’d talk more about picking Penn State’s Carl Nassib, defensive end, in the second round.
First off, I think we all agree that Dallas will take a defensive end with one of their first two picks. It is the biggest need of the entire roster right now. Unless they add another free agent between now and the draft, I don’t see how they can ignore the position with their early picks.
There are so many things that jump out about Carl Nassib on paper. First and foremost is that he led the nation with 15.5 sacks. That’s right; not Joey Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Shaq Lawson, or any other name you’re hearing much higher in the draft. Nassib’s numbers are especially impressive given that he missed nearly all of Penn State’s final two regular season games and bowl game with injury.
The next eye-popper is Nassib’s size; 6’7″ and 277 pounds. People are fawning over Buckner because of his size and athleticism. Well, check out a comparison of their combine results:
|Carl Nassib||DeForest Buckner|
|40-yard dash||4.84 s||5.05 s|
|3-cone drill||7.27 s||7.51 s|
|20 yard shuttle||4.37 s||4.47 s|
|Bench press||21 reps||21 reps|
Nassib beat Buckner in the speed and quickness events and they were even on strength. Buckner can jump a little higher but that’s not what I’m too worried about with my defensive ends.
The logical question at this point is why the nation’s sack leader, especially with those combine numbers, doesn’t have higher draft stock. The rumored hamstring injury that cost Nassib games at the end of the last year is fully healed. He is noted as having an exceptional work ethic and high character. So what gives?
The consensus among scouts is that Nassib doesn’t have the technique to make an immediate impact but has good raw material. It is expected that his leverage and balance issues and still-developing hand skills will make it hard for him to be effective right away. He is being projected mostly in the 2nd-3rd round range but I’ve seen a few putting him even lower than that.
Nassib’s production wasn’t isolated to the cupcakes on Penn State’s schedule. On the road against Ohio State he had 1.5 sacks and eight tackles. Against ranked Northwestern he had four tackles and a sack before leaving with the injury. Nassib had at least one sack in all 10 games he played and five games with multiple sacks. He was consistently productive against all levels of competition.
The term “one year wonder” is often attached to Nassib because his senior year was the only one in which he had top production. I think this is a flawed argument given the nature of college sports.
I think it’s odd that we would penalize a kid like Nassib for not being better earlier in his career but then give Bosa a pass for his lackluster senior season. I’d rather have the guy who was doing the best work most recently. That isn’t too say Nassib is a better prospect than Bosa but it does seem like some hypocrisy exists in the analysis.
It’s also important note where we were with the available talent when I picked Nassib. As you saw in my mock draft, lots of defensive ends were already off the board when I got to Dallas’ second pick. Here’s a quick list of who was already taken:
There are other DE prospects who would be reasonable over Nassib. Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper had a sick 4.59 40-yard dash but had nothing close to Nassib’s production in college. Shilique Calhoun from Michigan State has been a consistently productive player but has similar weaknesses and concerns as Nassib. Nobody jumps out as a superior prospect and none of them have Nassib’s freakish size or LED THE FREAKING COUNTRY in sacks.
Downgrading quarterbacks for their college production based on where they played or the system they were in is one thing. However, at any other position you have to be pretty sure about your analysis before you start denying results. Nassib has the numbers across the board that any team should be interested, and especially one with a defensive line guru like Rod Marinelli. If anyone can get the most out of Nassib’s raw material, it’s him.