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Syracuse could face 11 future NFL first-round picks this season

Reminder: Talent gap.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, SB Nation took a first crack at a mock 2018 NFL Draft, and to little surprise, it’s filled with 2017 Syracuse Orange opponents. To be exact: 11 of them.

4. Los Angeles Rams: Derwin James, S, Florida State

6. Buffalo Bills: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

10. Detroit Lions: Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

11. Los Angeles Chargers: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

14. Tennessee Titans: Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

20. Indianapolis Colts: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

23. Cleveland Browns (via Texans): Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

28. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

30. Seattle Seahawks: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

32. New England Patriots: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh

Interestingly, the majority of those players are on the defensive end (after an offense-heavy 2017 draft for the ACC). There’s also a pretty hefty number of players in the front half of the draft, underscoring just how much talent the Orange must line up against week-in and week-out.

It’s not a new phenomenon, either. While SU has been shut out of two of the last three drafts completely, and hasn’t had a first round pick since 2013 (Justin Pugh).

In the 2017 NFL Draft, Syracuse faced two first round picks -- Mike Williams and Deshaun Watson from Clemson. The 2016 NFL Draft featured three SU opponents from the previous season.

So while past years have all featured strong collections of future (eventual) NFL talent, they haven’t been as lopsided as 2017 could be in terms of near-term drafted players. Still, it’s just another way to underscore the talent gap between the Orange and its opponents of late; one that Dino Babers is working on addressing and fixing as much as he can this offseason.