Syracuse defeats West Virginia in Pinstripe Bowl

Syracuse's Ryan Nassib after being sacked . The Malvern Prep grad completed 12 of 24 passes for 134 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.
Syracuse's Ryan Nassib after being sacked . The Malvern Prep grad completed 12 of 24 passes for 134 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. (   JEFF ZELEVANSKY / Getty Images)
Posted: December 31, 2012

NEW YORK - If the Eagles decide to address their uncertain quarterback situation in April's draft, the two passers who endured steady snowfall at Yankee Stadium in Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl will be closely evaluated.

West Virginia's Geno Smith, who might be the top quarterback in the draft, faced Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, a West Chester native whose stock has risen and could also be taken early.

But if Smith and Nassib represented two of the best draft-eligible quarterbacks, Saturday's 38-14 Syracuse victory only advanced the perception that this is a weak year for signal-callers.

Smith finished 16 of 24 for 197 yards and two touchdowns, and was involved in two safeties. Nassib completed 12 of 24 attempts for 134 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The weather prompted teams to run, limiting the productivity of both quarterbacks.

"One game does not sum up an entire career, an entire body of work," Smith said. "And also, what I did in college has nothing to do with what I'll do on the next level. That's a whole other beast of its own. But one thing [NFL teams] should know is that I'm prepared to put the work in to be the best, and I'm not going to stop until I am."

Nine NFL teams were slated to have scouts at the game. The snowfall and slippery conditions complicated any evaluations, though Smith said the weather had "zero effect" on his performance. Nassib noted that the no-huddle offense also kept officials from changing the football.

Much changes during the four months leading up to the draft, and a player's stock fluctuates based upon the Senior Bowl, NFL scouting combine, and pro days.

The Eagles will draft between No. 3 and No. 8. That is typically fertile ground to land a top quarterback. Sixteen Pro Bowl quarterbacks during the last 20 years were first-round picks, and 13 were selected in the top 11 picks.

Smith will likely go early. In 12 games before Saturday, the Miami native completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 4,004 yards, 40 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He stands 6-foot-3, weighs 220 pounds, and started three seasons for the Mountaineers.

"People are going to like me, or people are going to dislike me; that's just the way the world works," Smith said. "My career as a whole, I like to say I did some pretty good things. I almost got 100 touchdowns in a career, less than 20 interceptions. I think that's a pretty good career."

Nassib likely won't require a first-round pick unless he moves up in the predraft process. But if the Eagles are looking for a rookie to compete with Nick Foles, the Malvern Prep product would be intriguing. Playing without a pro-level supporting cast, Nassib completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 3,619 yards in 12 games while throwing for 24 TDs and nine interceptions.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity," Nassib said of the NFL. "Thanks to a lot of people and some hard work, I've put myself in a position that if I have a good offseason, things can go my way."

The uncertainty of this year's quarterback class might prompt the Eagles to determine that entering 2013 with Foles as the starter trumps investing a first-rounder in Smith, or an early-round pick on Nassib. But minds can change, and new coaches can have different opinions.

Both players said their focus would shift to the draft on Sunday. That's when a long process begins - one that includes so much overanalysis that the bowl game might seem a distant memory.

"But I'm going to enjoy tonight, doing a little celebrating," Nassib said. "This is my last night as a college kid, so I'm going to make sure I do it right."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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