It was another great NFL Draft weekend for the Syracuse football program, as Jay Bromley was selected by "New York's College Team's Professional Team" (the New York Giants) in the third round, while the Atlanta Falcons picked Marquis Spruill in the fifth. For those counting at home, that's six straight drafts where at least one former Orange player was selected, and 37 of the last 38.
Despite just two players hearing their names called on TV, though, there are still plenty of chances for SU players to make NFL rosters. And that started/starts right after the draft's conclusion with undrafted free agency. Jerome Smith and Keon Lyn found homes by Saturday night (on the Falcons and Colts, respectively), while Ri'Shard Anderson was a Tennessee Titan by Sunday morning.
Jeremi Wilkes and Macky MacPherson are still out there for the taking as of Monday afternoon, so we'll be sure to update this once they're signed. But looking at the Orange players on rosters right now, we wanted to evaluate their selections relative to their new teams -- and give an idea of whether or not they can catch on.
Without further ado...
Jay Bromley, DT/New York Giants
Drafted in the third round, you'd think Bromley would have the quickest path to playing time, but that may not end up being the case. Already listed as a backup tackle on the Giants' depth chart, he'll be contending with veterans Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn in that role, as well as undrafted free agent Kelcy Quarles from South Carolina. Plenty of talk already that Quarles may be more refined at the position, but there's plenty of time to sort these things out in camp. We know Bromley has the ability to rise to the occasion and he'll have to do just that to break through this six-man group of defensive tackles for New York.
Marquis Spruill, LB/Atlanta Falcons
Spruill was thought to be a potential late-round pick, so seeing him go in the fifth was a pleasant surprise for SU fans. But now, can he break through the Falcons' crowded linebacker rotation? Since Spruill plays on the inside, he'll be competing against vets Paul Worrilow. Akeem Dent and Sean Witherspoon, plus others if the team elects to shift over an outside linebacker to the interior in their 3-4 scheme. I think Spruill could make his way as a special-teamer early on, but this may not be a slam-dunk by any means. He'll need to be a superstar in offseason workouts to make his case.
Jerome Smith, RB/Atlanta Falcons
'Rome was obviously a stud for the Orange during his playing career, but that fact failed to get him drafted, unfortunately. Lucky for him, the Falcons may be one of the better landing spots, however. Though nine-year veteram Steven Jackson is obviously entrenched as the starter, the rest of the depth chart presents ample space for him to succeed. Jacquizz Rodgers is quick, but undersized and definitely can't fill a third-down back role. Antone Smith has done very little of note through four years and is about the same size as Rodgers anyway. And Josh Vaughn hasn't been used enough to get a read on him (though he does have the proper size). Jerome should be able to work his way right in and potentially establish a future committee with Rodgers.
Keon Lyn, CB/Indianapolis Colts
I'm hopeful for Keon, but at the same time, the Colts are three-deep at every position in the secondary already -- a sign that doesn't bode particularly well for a guy who spent most of his senior season injured. Plus, the Colts' passing defense did rank 13th in yards per game last year. So they're at least sort of pleased with the current roster. But Lyn may still be able to work himself into the depth chart yet. Vontae Davis is really the only established entity at corner, with him and Darius Butler really being the only experienced and relatively healthy options on the roster. Like Bromley and Spruill, offseason workouts and camp mean a lot here. If Lyn can distinguish himself enough, there's the off-chance he'll push past someone like Marcus Burley or Sheldon Price and get into the rotation.
Ri'Shard Anderson, CB/Tennessee Titans
Anderson faces a lot of the same challenges that Lyn faces -- a stacked depth chart at cornerback for a team that excelled against the pass last year. But there are also the same opportunities there for him as well. A quick look at the depth chart shows the left side isn't glaringly impressive, and near the bottom of those rotations, there's room for a young up-and-comer who can make a play here and there. So can Anderson be that guy? Personally, I've never been sold on his career prospects (I mean, we've all watched this secondary), but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he finds a way to break up passing lanes better or hang with receivers more closely. For this sake, I hope so. Otherwise, it's up in the air whether he stays on the Titans roster long-term.
What do you think? Have different ideas about these players' abilities to make their respective teams' rosters? Weigh in below.