- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Believe it or not (and it seems as though many do not), Ryan Nassib's first year in the NFL went exactly the way the New York Giants planned. The former Syracuse quarterback was inactive for all 16 games of his 2013 rookie season, but that doesn't mean he's a disappointment or a "bust." When the Giants moved up in the fourth round to take Nassib on Day 3 of last year's draft, they didn't plan on playing him as a rookie. They wanted him to sit in meeting rooms, work on the practice field, follow Eli Manning around and watch the way he goes about his business. The Year 1 plan for Nassib, a developmental quarterback prospect, was to show him the NFL ropes and get him comfortable with life as a professional football player.
The Year 2 plan for Nassib is a bit different.
"We expect him to compete for the No. 2 spot," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said at his news conference last week. "I don't think there's any change with respect to him. We expect him to compete for that No. 2 spot."
There is competition, to be sure. Last year's backup quarterback, Curtis Painter, is still on the roster (albeit recovering from knee surgery). Because of Manning's recent ankle surgery, the Giants signed former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, whose experience obviously makes him a strong candidate for that No. 2 quarterback spot. And after Painter hurt his knee, the Giants also signed former Titans backup Rusty Smith. So even with Manning (and Painter, potentially) out of spring workouts, there will be competition for snaps this offseason. And the Giants will be watching with an open mind about the identity of Manning's 2014 backup.
"There's competition at the No. 2 spot," Reese said. "Obviously, Eli has the ankle, so we wanted to have more competition in the spring and we think Josh is a talented player. We like Nassib. He hasn't really had a chance to do a lot for us, so we're going to take a real good look at him in the spring, but we think he's still a good player. He hasn't had a chance to really play yet, so he's going to get a lot of work this spring, and obviously he'll get a lot of work in the preseason, along with Curtis Painter and Josh Freeman."
How do we handicap Nassib's chances, having not seen him play? Some who evaluated quarterbacks prior to last year's draft believed Nassib's best fit would be in a West Coast-style offense, and new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo appears like to run something that fits that description. If that's the case, maybe there's reason to like Nassib's chances of moving up the depth chart into a No. 2 quarterback role.
On the other hand, Freeman's presence could make that tougher. Freeman's experience and physical ability are likely to help him look very good on the practice field this spring and summer. And if he can answer some of the questions about the extent to which he can be an asset in the meeting rooms as a backup, he likely would be considered the front-runner. It's not as though Nassib can claim familiarity with the Giants' offensive system, since he's learning it along with Freeman and everyone else.
And please forget the idea that the Giants might be able to trade Nassib. I have no idea who came up with this, but how in the world can he possibly have any trade value right now? He was the No. 110 pick in the draft a year ago and hasn't played a competitive football game since clobbering Geno Smith and West Virginia in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl. Sure, if some team is willing to offer a pick better than 110 in this year's draft, the Giants would ship him off. I just can't imagine how a team could convince itself that this particular asset has appreciated over the course of the past calendar year.
No, this is about patience -- a clearly outdated concept when it comes to the NFL and especially quarterbacks. The Giants picked Nassib in the fourth round in April 2013 thinking that maybe he could develop into a useful quarterback. May 2014 is too soon to know whether they were right, and they knew it would be. They're hoping he gives them a little bit more information over the next couple of months so they can figure out whether it's worth it to spend more time on him. If so, great. If not, pfff. It was a fourth-round pick. If Nassib played any other position, we simply wouldn't be writing or reading about him right now.
3dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan