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2020 NFL Draft

From walk-on to 3rd-round pick, Carl Nassib embodies new Browns draft class

With the other four members of the Browns' first five draft picks, Carl Nassib sat on a stage Saturday afternoon in a sharp-looking suit and tried to make sense of the last 24 hours.

"This weekend has been awesome," said Nassib, the Penn State defensive end who was taken by Cleveland at No. 65 in the third round late Friday night.

He looked across the room to his parents.

"We freaked out last night. Was it last night?" he said, laughing. "It feels like it was a week ago."

Browns coach Hue Jackson recalled a similar scene.

"When we called him, what was really interesting is the guy was so excited to have this opportunity," he said. "You can just hear everybody in the background really excited for him, and we are excited to have him here."

After all, Nassib — who was one of 14 members of Cleveland's 2016 draft class — and his path to the NFL is relatively unusual; the tale of how he went from an unheralded walk-on at Penn State to the 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is well-known around State College.

According to an October story, Nassib — who played sparingly in high school before joining the Nittany Lions as a lanky player — spent his free time working out and bulking up. From ESPN's Josh Moyer:

"While most players napped during the hour-break between meetings and practice, Nassib performed bench-presses and squats. He'd show up to practice sore and sweating -- but, he told himself, at least he was warmed up. When he knew he wouldn't be playing Saturdays, he lifted on Fridays. When the team relaxed on its day off, Nassib could still be found in the weight room -- or Chipotle, depending on the hour."

"(He's got) a really unique story, sort of a self-made college player, a former walk-on who played his way into a scholarship," Browns vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry said Friday. "Obviously, he had a big, big senior year this past season. We love his length, love his motor, love his production. We think he can provide some great interior push for us along our defensive line."

The Browns selected Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib at No. 65 with their first of three picks in Friday's third round.

After serving as a role player and special teams standout, Nassib burst onto the scene in his fifth and final year, amassing 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in 10 games last season. For his efforts, Nassib was named a consensus All-American and cleaned up on the national awards circuit, collecting the Vince Lombardi Award and the Ronnie Lott Trophy.

"I think of myself as a resilient person. I had a lot of fun at Penn State," he said. "There were a lot more ups than downs. I had a great time and a great experience."

Now, Nassib is expected to add depth to a defensive line that struggled to stop the run last season. Jackson said he sees the 6-foot-7, 275-pounder playing as a defensive lineman in Ray Horton's defense, but wouldn't limit what else Nassib — who also dropped back in coverage for Penn State — might be able to do in other schemes.

"The guy had 15.5 sacks and he plays extremely hard and it is very important to him. Those are the type of guys we want on campus … This is the kind of guy we want on campus because he kind of embodies what I'm looking for. The guy plays the game the way it's supposed to be played, and he's played extremely well at a high level in the Big Ten," said Jackson, who also played down the notion Nassib might be a "one-year wonder."

"Sometimes it's great to find guys that are one-year wonders. You know what I mean?" Jackson said, laughing. "Because there are a lot of different variables that might have caused that. This guy has got the goods. He's got a chance.

"Again, when we talk about all these guys, every last one of them, we are giving them an opportunity," Jackson continued. "They have to do it, and we see the characteristics in them that's going to give them a chance to hopefully compete on this football team."

Nassib included, who vowed to give the same effort with the Browns that helped become a breakout player at Penn State.

"He told me that I needed to bring the same intensity and the same dedication that I had at Penn State," Nassib said.

"I told him I would bring that every single day."

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