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Mock Draft Digest: Quarterback surprise at the top

By Evan Hilbert | CBSSports.com

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Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib is climbing draft boards. (USATSI)

Last week, the prevailing theory of most NFL Draft analysts was that West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith would be the first (and perhaps only) signal-caller taken in round one, with some prognosticators sure he'd go in the top five picks.

Turns out, a lot can change in a week.

Based on what was gleaned from mock drafts by Mel Kiper and Todd McShay at ESPN, Rob Rang at CBSSports.com, Josh Norris at RotoWorld.com and SBNation.com's Dan Kadar, the hot new name climbing draft boards is Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, with three of the five mock drafters having him off the board at No. 8 to Buffalo. Of course, there is an obvious connection there, as the Bills' new head coach, Doug Marrone, was Nassib's coach last season at Syracuse.

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2013 NFL Draft

But there appears to be more than basic nepotism at play.

Last week, ESPN's Jon Gruden made a splash when, after meeting with the top 12 QBs in the draft, he declared Nassib to be the best of the bunch.

"I selfishly really like this kid in Syracuse," Gruden said. "I think he's a nuisance runner. I think he can scramble for first downs. If we want to run the read option, I think he can execute those plays. He's really sharp mentally. This is a guy that's been trained by Doug Marrone, formerly of the New Orleans Saints. So he's been in a really ambitious offensive scheme, taking care of the ball. He's proven he's tough, durable. I like his upside."

Perhaps more surprising than Nassib's rise is the precipitous fall of Smith, who remains a top five pick only in Kiper's draft. Smith seemed a lock to be taken in the top 10, at least, up until this week, when he's fallen to the latter part of round one, or out of the first round altogether.

Trades: With the trade of Darrelle Revis to the Bucs becoming official Sunday, the Jets locked up an extra pick in the first round, and they -- along with others -- may not be done yet. There are rumors circulating Monday that New York could be trying to deal for more picks, and there have been talks of some teams looking to trade up -- including the 49ers.

It's hard to predict which prospects could benefit from this late-round action, but there are some projecting that West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin could be the impetus for some teams -- namely San Francisco -- to make a move.

Run of OTs: There was never really a question that the Chiefs would take an offensive tackle at No. 1 overall, but there was some disagreement as to whom. The early money was on Luke Joeckel, but Eric Fisher some noise last week. Joeckel again seems to be the pick, but another tackle, Lane Johnson, may have weaseled his way into the top five. Three of the five drafts considered has three offensive tackles going in the first five, with Johnson slotted to go to the Lions.

At the very least, CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has Johnson going no later than No. 12 to Miami -- assuming they don't make a deal for Chiefs OT Brandon Albert before then -- but he also says that the Chargers and Cardinals are also high on the tackle.

 
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