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Syracuse Players in the NFL Draft: A History

We all know this, but Syracuse actually has a long, illustrious history of getting football players drafted. Let's take a look back at all that today, on Draft Day.


From 1976-2007, at least one Syracuse Orange(men) player was selected in the NFL Draft -- a streak only broken by a one-year gap in 2008, the low point of the GERG era. Going back even further, since 1950, only three NFL Drafts have gone Syracuse-less at all (2008, 1975 and 1952). THREE.

So yes, despite the jokes from other fan bases and the overall perception that we're "totally going 4-8 this year, you guys," the reality is that not only did Syracuse get back to churning out pro level talent under Doug Marrone and then Scott Shafer, but we never really stopped doing so. Ever.

Currently, the Orange have a five-year draft streak going, including two straight first-rounders (Chandler Jones in 2012 and Justin Pugh in 2013). The latter streak has virtually no chance of continuing tonight, though I'd be shocked if the former one doesn't extend to six years in a row (Dan will have more on that later today). So while we're counting down to the start of the first round tonight, and wondering which Syracuse player(s) will join the storied list of drafted Orange(men) players this weekend, why not take a look back at our long history with the NFL Draft?

Syracuse has had 20 players selected in the first round, and at least one in every decade since the 1950s (the NFL Draft started in the 1930s). That list:

Year Pick # Player Pos. Team
2013 19 Justin Pugh OT NY Giants
2012 21 Chandler Jones DE New England
2002 11 Dwight Freeney DE Indianapolis
2001 22 Will Allen CB NY Giants
2000 30 Keith Bulluck LB Tennessee
1999 2 Donovan McNabb QB Philadelphia
1998 22 Tebucky Jones DB New England
1998 25 Donovan Darius SS Jacksonville
1996 19 Marvin Harrison WR Indianapolis
1988 26 Ted Gregory NT Denver
1986 17 Tim Green LB Atlanta
1980 18 Art Monk WR Washington
1973 10 Joe Ehrmann DT Indianapolis
1969 22 Art Thomas DT Oakland
1968 8 Larry Csonka RB Miami
1967 6 Floyd Little RB Denver
1962 1 Ernie Davis RB Washington
1961 14 Art Baker FB Philadelphia
1960 7 Roger Davis OG Chicago
1957 6 Jim Brown FB Cleveland

Recent history shows a lot of love from the Patriots, Giants and Colts, while earlier history revealed some favoritism from the Redskins. Of those 21 first round picks above, eight have been top 10 selections, three have been top-five and two (Davis, Moore) have gone first overall.

In our overall history, 194 players have been drafted (in both the NFL and AFL drafts) -- a big number, though obviously some other schools have staggering figures that manage to dwarf Syracuse's. Still, a nice set of results for the Orange(men) and one with some interesting trends. You can check out the full Google doc of draft picks here, but parsing through myself, a couple things stood out:

  • Despite Syracuse alum Al Davis owning the Raiders for so long, his franchise only drafted five Orange(men) players
  • Old habits seem to die hard when it comes to franchises that draft Syracuse players. Just like now, the Colts (18 all-time) and Giants (17 all-time) lead the way in picks. Also not surprising, the Browns (11) were third.
  • In the draft, the Orange(men) also live up to their reputation as a home for elite rushers. All-time, 36 players classified as a running back, fullback or halfback were picked in either the NFL or AFL draft -- the most of any position.
  • Coming in behind RBs were offensive tackles (24), linebackers (23) and offensive guards (22) came in right after. While we've certainly had our fair share of skill players, at the end of the day, this has always been a #hardnosed program with elite talents in the trenches.
  • Only one current franchise (the Houston Texans) has never drafted a Syracuse player. All-time, 32 different franchises have picked an Orange(man) -- the other 31 current teams, plus the defunct Brooklyn Yanks (two players).


Anyway, lots of fun info to look through in the doc I posted up above. And it serves as a nice reminder that Syracuse has never really stopped pushing out NFL talent -- it's just become more apparent to others again recently. Also: take a look at some of the fantastic names we used to have in this program. Wes Dove and Tim Pidgeon were on the same team. That's really all you need to know...