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MOBILE, Ala. -- Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib had never met before they sat down for an interview this week at the Senior Bowl.
To Nassib’s surprise, Kelly already knew much more about him than he knew about Kelly.
“The offense that he ran at Oregon was kind of similar to the one I ran in my last year, with the read-zone and stuff,” said Nassib, a native of West Chester and a former Malvern Prep standout. “He actually did a study on one of our best plays and knew all about it. It was actually pretty cool.”
Nassib was one of six Senior Bowl quarterbacks scouted and interviewed by Kelly, general manager Howie Roseman and Eagles staff this week in the days leading up to Saturday’s exhibition game.
Nassib, who wasn’t a blue-chip recruit out of high school, set Syracuse single-season records for passing yards (2,685) and touchdown passes (22) and became a fast riser up the draft charts after an impressive senior season.
He rushed for only 142 yards on 77 carries in 13 games, an average of just under 11 yards per game, but Nassib felt encouraged by his interview with the Eagles and didn’t leave thinking that his skill set is unfit for the offense Kelly intends to implement.
“I’m just happy he did [meet with me],” Nassib added. “It was kind of a little bit of shock. I saw Howie Roseman for the first time, because I’ve seen him on TV and all that. Once the excitement calmed down we got down to football and we had a good conversation. It sounds like it’s an awesome offense. It looks fun ... and I’d like to be a part of it.”
Asked if he fit Kelly’s quarterback model, Nassib shrugged.
“It depends on what type of quarterback he’s looking for,” he said. “Maybe I fit his mold. Maybe not.”
Nobody else seems to know the model, either. Perhaps that’s intentional, or maybe Kelly just hasn’t yet figured out exactly what kind of quarterback will lead his offense. Maybe he still hasn’t etched an offensive design in stone yet.
Kelly, who was hired last Wednesday and flew to Mobile only five days later, has already admitted that he hasn’t yet watched much tape on his players under contract.
Nassib, a projected second-round pick, could easily thrust himself into first-round discussion with another round of impressive interviews and workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium next month at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Right now, he’s telling the same wishful story to anyone who covers an NFL team that showed interest in him, which is standard practice for prospects during the pre-draft process.
In Mobile, he also told the Bills’ team web site that playing in Buffalo under Doug Marrone, his former coach at Syracuse, would be a “match made in Heaven.” To reporters who cover the Eagles, Nassib embraced the native son vision.
“Your season tickets would definitely go up,” Nassib joked, “because all my buddies would definitely be there and you know how they are. It should be fun, though. It would be fun.”
Nassib completed just over 62 percent of his passes this past season but the scouting report on the 6-foot-2, 229-pound quarterback is that he lacks precision on deep balls. Nassib called those criticisms fair and said he’s working to improve his areas of weakness.
“Yeah, that’s kind of always been my thing for the last couple years,” he said. “Just something I need to work on. It’s a little feel thing with the receivers. God willing I get to a team, it’s going to take a little extra work getting that down with guys.”
Not since 1999 has Syracuse given a quarterback to the NFL through the draft (you might recall Donovan McNabb), and only two Syracuse quarterbacks since 1955 -- McNabb and Don McPherson -- have been drafted.
Both, oddly enough, were selected by the Eagles -- McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick in 1999 and McPherson in the sixth round of the 1988 draft. Nassib said it “would mean a lot” to become the third.
“There have been some good quarterbacks go through Syracuse,” he said. “I’m fortunate enough to add to that long history of great players. I’m just happy I can come out here and rep my school.”