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Syracuse Football: Top Orange Prospects for 2017 NFL Draft

The 2016 NFL Draft's over, so we turn our attention to 2017.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 NFL Draft is over, and one Syracuse Orange player -- national hero Riley Dixon -- was selected. So now we turn our attention to next year's draft, despite being 12 months out.

Plenty of Orange players could potentially be drafted, just by way of being eligible. But which ones have the best chance? We evaluate SU's top options to get their names called next spring.

(all names listed alphabetically)

Brisly Estime, wide receiver (senior)

Syracuse fans have loved Estime's speed and ability for years, and last season, it finally seemed like others caught on. His role obviously grew within the offense in 2015, but it's only scratching the surface of what the quick wideout can do in the passing game. Criminally underused in terms of the deep ball, a switch to Dino Babers's offense could change everything about how scouts view him. Right now, he's likely a top-tier return man who could carve out some space on a roster as a reserve receiver. He has tons of rooms to grow this fall, however.

Marqez Hodge, linebacker (senior)

Hodge's (lack of) size is a bit of a detriment for the NFL. But over the course of his career, he's shown some speed and ability to get into the backfield. The old style of defense played into his strengths. Brian Ward's Tampa-2 may not. But if he can still make his presence known and show an ability to adapt to a different scheme and change the way he plays in space, there's a shot he gets more looks.

Steve Ishmael, wide receiver (junior)

The lone underclassman on this list, Ishmael's a pretty significant threat to leave (sorry) if he puts in the type of season many of us would project in Babers's offense. In inept offensive schemes, Ishmael's shown himself to be an expert at making plays and scoring just the same. While he's not necessarily sporting elite speed, he has great hands, good size and a physicality that could have him excel at the pro level. The spread is going to display his talents for all to see. Expect plenty of draft buzz for Ish early next year.

Omari Palmer, offensive guard (redshirt senior)

Palmer and the Syracuse line have stopped and started over the last couple years, and there's certainly reason to cast doubts. But he does have the sort of size (6-foot-2, 323 pounds) you're looking for out of an NFL prospect. Now he just needs to put a full season of results behind that. If Eric Dungey avoids the sorts of hits he took last year, the offense improves its ability to move the ball between the tackles and Palmer looks the part as a leader, he could move his way into late-round conversations.

Gabe Sherrod, defensive end (redshirt senior)

And here's your only sure-fire draft pick at the moment. Experts have already said the Delaware State transfer is on radars for 2017, and the larger platform of a Power Five school should help that attention grow. He's already shown an ability to get after the passer and exhibits elite strength and skill moves on the edge. A season as the premier pass-rusher for the Orange may not make him the next Chandler Jones, per se. But it could take him into day two (second and third round) conversations.


Plenty more seniors, juniors and redshirt sophomores on the roster who could potentially add their names to the list above. But this is your most likely group as of right now. Anyone else that should be added here? Feel free to toss in some more recommendations below.