As you’re aware, the NFL Draft enters its second (of three) days tonight. While the Syracuse Orange’s Amba Etta-Tawo is unlikely to go in rounds two or three, rounds four through seven do seem much more certain.
Barring some surprise from Brisly Estime, Etta-Tawo would be the only Syracuse player selected this year -- the second straight year the Orange only have one player chosen (Riley Dixon was the only one in 2016, despite him counting as five people).
But next year could end up featuring a whole lot more Syracuse in the draft, especially if the defense comes around a bit from last year’s performance. Dan and I talked about most of these names on the podcast this week, but here is a short list of players you might expect to hear more about come this time in 2018:
Speed and tackling ability on the outside are in high demand at the pro level, though Bennett would need to add at least 20 pounds to his frame. Still, a player who finds himself near ball-carriers and making tackles as much as he does (had over 100 last year) is bound to garner attention.
Devin M. Butler
As of right now, he’s off the board, but a potential camp invite after the draft. But a lot can change between now and next spring. Butler’s experience could play a valuable role in this defense turning the tide. If he shows himself a big part of the solution at corner, it’ll speak volumes.
This would require him to declare early, but if he comes back from injury with a huge season and helps this defense improve, it’s definitely possible. Cordy’s not a safety who just sits in the box, which will appeal to scouts. And despite his lack of size, he does manage to play far bigger than he is.
Franklin’s off-the-field measurables are off the charts, and unlike some of Syracuse’s previous linebackers to either get picked or passed up by the NFL, he has a bit more size to his frame (currently weighs 244 pounds). Perhaps his speed or strength won’t wow scouts, but his smarts should. He’s shown himself adaptable and capable in various roles and schemes.
Can’t rave enough about Ishmael’s route-running and block abilities. As the primary receiver in this year’s Syracuse offense too, we may finally get to see the peak of his powers. He’s got the right size and speed combination. So all scouts need to see is the ability to put up 60-70 catches in a competent offensive scheme. He’s our best chance at a day one selection next year.
Martin’s a hard hitter who would be off the board right now, but only because he hasn’t stayed on the field consistently. That was Toledo, though. He’ll get ample opportunities and a stage with Syracuse this year. Like the other defenders, if he shows himself part of an improved pass defense, it’ll speak volumes to his skill set.
Has basically excelled at three different positions (running back, H-back, wide receiver), and has the speed to both operate near the line of scrimmage, and go downfield a bit too. His hands have improved over time, and despite his smaller size, he can break tackles as well. It’ll depend on team fit, obviously. But he could be selected by a team looking for a slot receiver, or a scat-back type role. He’s got versatility, which NFL teams would like.
The spring game showed us glimpses that he could be a terror for defenses this year, with a speed and size combo that make him a mismatch all over the place. Syracuse didn’t have much in terms of a tight end passing game last year. That’ll change with Pierce, who could potentially parlay a big season into looks from pro scouts after just one season at SU (he has two left to play, so would be eligible after this year).
Freak athlete who may not always be entrenched in his starting role, but has the speed to make an impact in whatever part of the field he’s playing on. At the NFL level, there may be a push to switch him to safety, however, so we’d need to see what he can do in pass coverage this year. He’s a potential sleeper for SU in the spring.
Any other seniors or potential underclassmen you think would be on draft radars as well? Share your own picks for next year’s draft below.