Syracuse could end up with a few football players drafted to the NFL this year. No, it's highly unlikely anyone's going in the first round. But the 2015 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday, April 30, should feature some Orange athletes moving on to the next level.
As a preview for the Draft, we're providing some quick primers on a few former SU football players, and where they could be selected this weekend. Today:
Sean Hickey, Offensive Tackle
Career Stats (three years): Started 38 games at tackle (both right and left) for Syracuse
NFL Scouting Combine Grade: 5.1 (35 bench press reps)
What People are Saying:
High-cut college tackle who could struggle badly in pass protection if left at that position in the pros. If he were a little more athletic, he could be an interesting center prospect in the Chris Myers mold. As an NFL prospect, he won't check off many of the boxes teams are looking for in terms of his natural talent.
...Hickey was the heir apparent to Pugh as Syracuse's starting left tackle and has a similar skill-set as the former first rounder, but Hickey has some limitations that likely push him to guard in the NFL. He sets up quickly and gets into position to react, staying coordinated and balanced through contact with proper technique. He does just enough to cut off edge speed, but that's likely not something that he will be able to get away with in the NFL as his lack of length is a glaring weakness.
Although he will need time to acclimate himself to the physicality of the next level, Hickey has the mental makeup and starter potential to be a top 125 pick, ideally suited at guard in a zone blocking scheme.
Sean Hickey isn't a top prospect, he will likely be a fourth- or fifth-round pick. But I think he has the upside to work his way into a starting role as an interior lineman. I think he's versatile enough to play in either a man blocking scheme or a zone blocking scheme. He has some technique issues to clean up, but he's a prospect I could see the Giants liking. It's also worth noting that the Giants have a shown a strong trend of taking players who are at or near the top of the pack in the bench press, which Hickey was. Also, he's from Syracuse, so that makes him worth keeping an eye on anyway.
Hickey fits the mold of a Chip Kelly blocker with a similar game to that of a young Todd Herremans. He is not going to blow you away with any aspect of his game but he has versatility and can lineup at several spots. He could serve as the starting left or right guard or play swing tackle for the team. He is likely an early Day 3 pick.
Hickey's worked out for eight different teams (and heard from seven afterward), both big numbers for someone projected to go anywhere from the fifth through seventh rounds. He hasn't named teams (that I've seen, anyway), but you can assume the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers for starters. Other teams interested in offensive tackles could be the Cleveland Browns or Indianapolis Colts, too.
Hickey expects to go somewhere in the third through fifth rounds, which could be indicative of a selection by the Giants (who, as we know, regularly pick SU players... sometimes earlier than others project them). His solid pro day numbers are definitely helpful -- especially for those that feel you can teach some technique over strength and basic skill set (which he has).
Overall, he's shown himself to be durable -- especially coming off a true sophomore year injury -- and also exhibits the smarts to adjust to changes in the game. This past year, he was far and away the team's best offensive linemen, and that fact was able to shine through against elite opponents (and defensive fronts) like Florida State and Clemson. While some scouts seem to think he does better in a smaller space (likely true), that's advantageous for teams looking to slot him in at guard, you'd think. Most NFL scouts seem to plug him in there, and if he can go to a system that's familiar (see some of the teams above, especially New York's), that could best set him up for success at the pro level.
Best of luck this weekend, Sean!