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.