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Syracuse Football: What Does the NFL Draft Drought Mean?

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Syracuse didn't have any players drafted in 2015 and there's a good chance the same thing might happen in 2016. What do we really take away from that?

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Syracuse Orange fans couldn't help but feel pretty disappointed to find out no SU players were drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, making it only the third time since 1975 (and second time in seven years).

It's not a good look. It seems to tell a story about the state of the program and the kind of athletes we're developing.

Much like recruiting and in-season polls, however, the NFL Draft is a measuring stick that has value but doesn't tell the whole story.

Yes, Sean Hickey and Durell Eskridge are certainly allowed to be disappointed for not hearing their names called.

"It was a tough, tough process waiting and waiting like that," Hickey said in a phone interview on Monday morning. "I think the toughest part of it was seeing linemen go that I knew I was better than.

"There were times when it was like, 'Are you kidding me?'"

Given everything he heard and did beforehand, not getting his draft moment has to be crushing.

But here's the thing. He's still getting his shot, with the New Orleans Saints. And since he would have been a late-round draft pick anyway, his chances aren't really that much less. It still comes down to how he performs in camp.

35% of current NFL players came into the league as undrafted free agents. Some of that is just common sense (you can only draft so many guys) and some of that is just simple truth (drafts are about potential and a lot of guys fail to meet potential).

Sure, Hickey and Eskridge could have been drafted and that would have been great for SU's rep. But if the two of them (and the other SU alums joining the NFL) stick around, that'll do just as much if not more for the school's reputation. People love to harp on Boeheim and his lack of NBA-quality players in spite of the fact that he churns out draftees. If SU football populates the NFL with alumni, that's ultimately more important than getting a guy picked in the 6th round.

And ultimately, even if SU had gotten a couple guys drafted, what would that say about us? That we're a better program? I'm sure you noticed that the Washington Huskies got a ton of guys drafted early this year. On paper, that's great news for them, but I couldn't help but wonder...why isn't UW better? Why are they stocked with so many NFL-calibur athletes and "only" winning eight games? Yeah, they should be happy with so many first-round alums, but, it also makes people wonder why they're not doing more.

Looking ahead, next year's draft potential doesn't look all that exciting for Syracuse. There is a lot of football to be played between now and then but it's entirely possible Syracuse doesn't get anyone drafted next season as well. That would be the first time since the 40's that's happened. If so, it's something that absolutely needs to be discussed. But if a couple of those guys end up making it in the NFL anyway, that discussion could be overblown.

We'll know more about how to feel about it in a few years. Like so many things, the clear answer involves patience, and there's nothing Syracuse fans have less of these days.