Cleveland Browns: 5 questions on Carl Nassib with Victory Bell Rings

Sep 12, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Carl Nassib (95) runs towards Buffalo Bulls quarterback Joe Licata (16) during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
Sep 12, 2015; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Carl Nassib (95) runs towards Buffalo Bulls quarterback Joe Licata (16) during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O /

The Cleveland Browns have been searching for a pass rusher for years. Can rookie Carl Nassib be part of the solution?

The Cleveland Browns have failed in many aspects of the game since returning to the NFL in 1999.

One area that has been a continual thorn has been the pass rush, which has failed to strike fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks. Several coaches, defensive coordinators and players have spent many a summer day talking about their commitment to get to the quarterback, only to see that talk blow away like a fallen leaf once autumn hits Northeast Ohio.

The Browns made a renewed effort during the 2017 NFL Draft to fix the problem by drafting Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 after posting 12.5 sacks) and Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib.

Related: 5 Questions on Emmanuel Ogbah

Nassib was a walk-on at Penn State and spent his two years on special teams. He entered the starting lineup in 2014 and last season led the nation with 15.5 sacks, a school record.

Following that breakout season, Nassib was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the Lombardi Award winner as the nation’s top offensive or defensive lineman, and the Ted Hendricks Award winner as the nation’s top defensive end.

To learn a bit more about a player that the Browns are hoping will give players like Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger some sleepless nights, we turned to Marty Leap from Victory Bell Rings for a virtual Q&A on Nassib.

Q: What kind of player are the Browns getting in Nassib?

Marty: In Carl Nassib, the Browns are getting a player that is extremely hard working, has a non-stop motor while on the football field and, due to his natural size, can be a real handful for opposing blockers. Nassib has great length at defensive end, a good first step, and a motor that is going 110 percent the entire time he is on the field. All of these qualities are what added up to make Nassib the best pass rusher in the Big Ten, if not the entire FBS, in 2015.

As a rookie, Nassib will probably be able to step in and contribute right away on obvious passing downs as a pass rusher. Even though Nassib has really filled out in recent years and is a very large human being, there is still some room in his 6-foot-6 frame to add a little more muscle. This is something he will probably have to do this to become a better run defender in the NFL.

One thing that will help Nassib, though, is that in college, and this is not always the case with defensive ends, he was an every down player for the Nittany Lions. So, he already has plenty of experience defending the run, especially after playing in the run-heavy Big Ten Conference.

Ultimately, Nassib is going to bring a great work ethic and give you his all at everything he does. Mix that with having some really special tools that cannot be taught, and the Browns are getting a player with the potential to be a double-digit sack man in time in the NFL.

Q: What is the one aspect of his game that sets Nassib apart from other defensive ends?

Marty: What sets Nassib apart the most from other defensive ends is his length. Nassib is every bit of the 6-foot-6 he is listed at, and due to that he has a wing span that is over seven-feet long. This helps him to create some serious matchup nightmares for opposing offenses that are attempting to block him.

Nassib’s length also allows him to make a lot of plays while still being blocked. There were countless times last year that Nassib would make a tackle or a sack, or at least force a ball carrier to change direction and blow the play up, while still being engaged by an offensive lineman. Length like Nassib’s simply cannot be taught, either you’re born with it or you’re not. And that length is one of the aspects of Nassib’s game that makes him so good.

Q: Nassib put up good numbers against weak competition, but struggled against better teams. Can he overcome that at the NFL level?

Marty: The five best teams Penn State played last season were Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Georgia. Against the Buckeyes, Nassib recorded 8 tackles and 1.5 sacks on his way to a big night in the Penn State loss. Nassib was having another typical game (4 tackles and a sack) against Northwestern before suffering a hamstring injury in the second half of that game. That injury plagued Nassib for the rest of the season.

Nassib tried to play against Michigan, but, due to the injury, was done after just one series. Then the following week against Michigan State he did not play at all. That hamstring issue lingered into bowl season and also restricted him big time against Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

Due to the injury, Nassib’s stat sheet from last year can be a bit misleading. He had a good game against Ohio State, and was on his way to doing it against Northwestern before suffering an injury that, for all intents and purposes, ended his season.

More from Dawg Pound Daily

Q: What does Nassib need to do to avoid being a one-year wonder who can’t duplicate his success in the NFL?

Marty: To avoid being a one-year wonder Nassib just has to keep working. As I said above, Nassib has the length and raw talents that you simply cannot teach. But what makes him great is his work ethic. Nassib almost did not play college football, he only walked on at Penn State after his parents and high school coaches persuaded him to do so. After that, his fantastic work ethic took over.

During his five years in Happy Valley, Nassib went from an unknown walk-on to being arguably the best defensive lineman in the Big Ten not named Joey Bosa by the time his playing career ended. You do not come that far without a great work ethic, and as long as that continues, Nassib will have a successful NFL career.

Next: Cleveland Browns: The 2016 safeties

Q: What’s the one thing about Nassib that Browns fans are going to love?

Marty: Browns fans are going to love Nassib’s motor. Nassib is a player that gives 110 percent effort 100 percent of the time, and those players are always easy to root for. Sometimes you we see players who get lazy, take a play off or end up out of position, and it hurts the team. With Nassib, however, this will never be an issue. If Nassib is on the field you can be guaranteed he is giving you every last ounce of energy that he has.