Former Syracuse Orange punter Riley Dixon was taken by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the NFL Draft Sunday evening, ending Syracuse's one-year drought of failing to have a former player drafted.
Despite excelling in forcing fair catches, a well-built frame and plenty of intangibles, Dixon, who was taken at pick No. 228, was not a sure thing to be drafted. Most experts predicted he would be selected in the seventh round, or go undrafted entirely.
Dixon, however, was the second punter taken in this year's NFL Draft, behind only Drew Kaser of Texas A&M, who was drafted in the fourth round by the San Diego Chargers with pick No. 179.
Dixon was the only former Syracuse player to be taken in this year's NFL Draft. Former Syracuse defensive end Ron Thompson, offensive lineman Rob Trudo and cornerback Julian Whigham all went undrafted.
Shortly after hearing his name called, Dixon expressed his excitement on Twitter.
Staying in the orange and blue!!! God is good! Go Broncos!— Riley Dixon (@RileyTDixon92) April 30, 2016
Jon Elway, the Denver Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations, explained the team's decision on Twitter, describing Dixon as "a talented punter who had a lot of success in college."
Dixon will now compete for the starting job against veteran Britton Colquitt. Colquitt, who signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2009, finished last season with a career-worst average of 43.6 yards-per-punt. Dixon averaged 43.7 yards-per-punt in his final season at Syracuse.
Colquitt is set to count $4 million against the Broncos' salary cap this season, while Dixon will only count $470,002, according to Spotrac. If Dixon has a solid training camp, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Broncos cut Colquitt and enter the season with the younger and cheaper Dixon as the team's punter.
While the Broncos may have selected Dixon as a punter, it is no secret the team currently has a muddled quarterback situation. Let's not forget Dixon helped build a cult following at Syracuse due to his success on converting fake punts and fake field goals, including throwing for a game-winning touchdown against Villanova in 2014.