2016 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Penn State DE Carl Nassib

As you should know by now, our attention has now shifted to the 2016 NFL Draft as it relates to the prospects. From now until the draft takes place, we hope to profile as many draft prospects as we possibly can for you. Most of these player profiles will be centered around prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have interest in.

Today’s profile is on someone who could wind up in Pittsburgh. Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib.

#95 Carl Nassib/DE Penn State: 6’6/7 277

The Good

– Intriguing size with top athleticism for his size, ideal length (34 inch arms)
– Shows impressive get off, explosive out of his stance
– Toolsy pass rusher who can win in multiple ways, speed around the edge, speed to power, dip/rip
– Shows a violent punch on contact and capable of controlling the LOS, especially when faced against a TE
– Can take over games, flashes of being a dominant player
– Smart player who does the little things like getting his hands up to disrupt throwing lanes
– Surprisingly able to leverage defenders despite height issues
– Runs hard to the football
– Has some experience dropping into coverage, relative to size, looked comfortable dropping into curl/flat zone
– Football family

The Bad

– Unique body type and did not show explosion at the Combine (28.5 vert, 9’6” broad)
– Looks to fire out of his stance so hard he can get himself overextended
– Limited positionally, left end only
– Could stand to get stronger against the run, hold the POA of attack
– Has not played a lot of football, one year starter, dealt with injury, did not play much prior to 2015


– 13 career starts but left two games very early because of injury
– 2015: 19.5 TFL, 15.5 sacks, 6 FFs, sacks were a school record
– Rest of Penn St career: 5.5 TFL 2 sacks
– Never started a game in high school or prior to 2015 with Penn State
– Younger brother of Ryan Nassib, 4th round pick of the Giants in 2013
– Father, cousin, also played football
– Came into school at 6’6 218 pounds as a walk-on, earned scholarship in 2013
– Biology major

Tape Breakdown

Nassib is someone who caught the eye of the Big Ten and now, the NFL. It’s a crazy story, to go from a high school afterthought, longshot walk-on, to a one-year starter who set the conference on fire and is a slamdunk to get drafted. No matter where he goes, he’s been a success no one anticipated.

He’s an interesting body type, an unusual build. 6’7, 272, Nassib is an impressive athlete. Though it’s only against Buffalo, you want to see players dominate, especially at the end of the game. And that’s what Nassib did, with two sacks and a forced fumble on the final drive. Here’s a look at the forced fumble, bending and beating the right tackle on his way to the QB.

Against better competition, Nassib shows the ability to get skinny and turn the corner against the Ohio State right tackle.

I appreciate the hustle, too. After getting juked pretty badly by Braxton Miller, Nassib stays with it and dives back in to make the tackle in the backfield.

And the dude can just plain hit you. Stunts inside as the looper and absolutely destroys this Temple quarterback. Whew.

But as a raw player, there are some technical aspects to clean up. Nassib fires out hard on the snap but doesn’t always bring his lower half, causing his eyes to drop and get really overextended. At the top, look at this screencap of Nassib completely flat against the OSU right tackle.


And then there’s this, Nassib flailing and falling to the ground, out of the play before it begins.

Most will call him a 4-3 end. And that’s fair. But as sub-package football dominates the league, positions blur and roles become more important. It opens a 3-4 team like Pittsburgh to Nassib. Five years ago, there wouldn’t have been a good fit for him in their base defense. Too light/weak to play end, not nimble enough in coverage to play outside linebacker.

But can he play the three tech in a 2-4-5 and get after the quarterback? Yes. Can he kick over to end in some faux 3-3-5 looks with one of the outside linebackers playing with his hand down, as the Steelers showed a couple looks of? Absolutely. Can he stand up occasionally, drop enough to mix up his assignment, and rush off the edge? You bet.

Schemes today gives him that extra versatility and makes him more attractive to the Steelers, who have already shown interest in him.

Still, he’s a developmental player who is way behind in terms of football years from almost everyone else in this year’s draft. Not sure what he’s going to give you in year one. But the Steelers could be in a position to wait if they bring in a veteran DL piece and James Harrison returns at OLB.

Projection: Late 3rd-Early 4th

Games Watched: at Temple, vs Buffalo, at Ohio State, Senior Bowl

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Andrew BillingsMackensie AlexanderTyler ErvinAustin BlytheChris Jones
Sheldon RankinsNoah SpenceJordan JenkinsYannick NgakoueDarian Thompson
Bryce WilliamsCre’von LeblancHenry Krieger-CobleLeonard FloydJosh Garnett
Kevin HoganCorey ColemanShaq LawsonAustin JohnsonDeAndre Houston-Carson
William Jackson IIIVernon ButlerSean DavisTyler BoydJalen Ramsey
Taveze CalhounGermain IfediNick VannettJack AllenAlonzo Russell
Leonte CarrooTyler HigbeeKeanu NealCyrus JonesD.J. White
Austin HooperTyvis PowellJeremy CashDevon CajusteDeiondre’ Hall
Justin SimmonsJonathan JonesLawrence ThomasJason SpriggsKen Crawley

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    I really want them to pick up a d lineman at some point in this draft but I can think of probably 20 guys I’d prefer over him, especially with the two missing picks this year. I doubt he’ll be winning over NFL level tackles like he did college guys and needs technique work vis a vis overextending.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I guess the only problem I have with Nassib is that he would need to pack on some weight in order to play our 3-4DE. IF he is 277 then we’re talking 20 – 25 lbs, which could affect his quickness/speed.
    Certainly tall enough though, and seems to have good football instincts. Would really be nice to find a guy that can impact in year 1 though given BBs ticking clock.

  • falconsaftey43

    Why make him gain weight to play 5-tech? Let him play at his current weight as an “OLB” he’ll be an edge rusher in the nickle. I really like him as a pass rusher because he showed he can win at a high level with a variety of pass rush moves.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    He doesn’t strike me as being an OLB, I guess because of the height. And at 277 he would need to lose weight (granted, a lot less than he would have to put on to play 3-4 DE).
    He just seems like a tweener, although I agree with you on the pass rushing – and we definitely need that.
    More than anything I want us to get a good DLman to prevent Heyward and Tuitt from being ground to a pulp!

  • Alex Kozora

    Eh, he wouldn’t be a traditional, Heyward type. Sub-package guy you’re moving around a ton. I wouldn’t ask him to put on much weight.

  • PittsburghSports

    I like Nassib, but I was a little disappointed with his combine, overall. The biggest issue I have with Nassib, is for the Steelers to use him, they’d line him up as a DE in a faux 335 like you’re saying or something to that effect. Now, sure, Colbert discussed the possibility of a player like Nassib recently, but seeing is believing for me. Until we actually do it, I can’t see us drafting a player like that. For it to happen we’d need very good value with the pick. I actually see Nassib as a late 2nd-3rd rd pick, so for the Steelers, a 3rd-4th rd projection I’m happy with.

  • An interesting prospect for sure.

    regarding his combine,

    Broad Jump isn’t a bad number by any stretch. I don’t know if you’re pulling that off his mock draftable web or something similar which is going to compare him against guys that are too small to play 5-tech. If you look at him versus other players >6’2, 265 he compares well – not a star but at the 75th percentile.

    Vert is poor as noted – around 25% for players >6’2, 265.

    His short shuttle (88%) and 10 split are really really good though.

    My percents are based off 2015 data for all athletes that participated in the event, filtered only for players >6’2, 265

  • RMSteeler

    I think tweener (or elephant?) is going to be the new standard in a 3-4 nickel. Best to leave him at his weight, unless he packs on muscle pounds which couldn’t hurt , I think. Better to leave guys like this as they are instead of the two or three years of development to convert to an NFL DE or OLB. I’ve never really liked the conversion of light DE’s to OLB on the team. In the past, you could because of depth. Those days are past. I agree that there will be better type DE’s to fill this role available before Nassib though.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I don’t disagree with the weight thing but that’s my point – either he redshirts for a year or…… Pass.
    We need a guy to spell Heyward/Tuitt now not in a year.

  • RMSteeler

    A guy to help this year for Tuitt/Heyward would be Billings in the first. Like I said, there will be better DE’s than Nassib. He’s not a first round pick. As deep as the DL/DE pool is this year, I think Nassib’s expected round may be too high. Didn’t say I wanted him, just my evaluation of the position he may fill, and that type of position that may develop this year with the Steelers. I thought that’s what they might have been thinking with Chickillo last year. I guess I was wrong on that.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I could definitely be on board with Billings. Seems like our DLmen are getting a bigger piece of the pass rushing pie, and Billings can both hold his ground like a traditional NT AND rush the passer from inside, which is something we really haven’t had the last few seasons.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    By ‘sub package guy’ do you mean a pass rushing specialist Alex?
    I would be fine with him in that role and agree with you on the weight – I think we have been awfully lucky in the past taking college DEs and asking them to drop weight to play OLB in our old 3-4. Why roll the dice on that transformation if you can use a guy at his natural weight in our new 3-4 scheme with DLmen having a bigger piece of the pass rushing pie?

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    So, you wouldn’t see him as a 3 down DE in our new 3-4, but more of a situational player then? A ‘pass rushing specialist’ ?
    I could live with that.

  • RMSteeler

    And unusual lateral movement for someone his size for backside run support as well as stunts to rush the passer.

  • Aj Gentile

    He’s a smart guy who will find success who ever drafts him