Even keeping in mind the recent 15-year rough patch for Syracuse Orange football, the program’s managed to produce NFL players throughout its long history.
However, that did get a little bit harder in recent seasons. After having at least one player selected every year from 1976 through 2007, Syracuse has been shut out three times in the last decade — 2008, 2015 and 2017. We could’ve been shut out back in 2016 as well, if not for (now New York Giants punter) Riley Dixon getting picked in the seventh round. So needless to say, things have been rough of late, especially in the era since Scott Shafer took the reins back in 2013.
No (head coach) Shafer recruit has been picked in the NFL Draft -- a fact that will remain true if Steve Ishmael and Zaire Franklin -- the two most likely Orange names to be called -- are also shut out. But more importantly, Syracuse failing to have any picks this year would mark the first two-year streak without one since 1948-49.
In the near 70-year stretch since, SU draft misses have been a rarity. Along with the aforementioned three seasons this past decade, the only other Orange-less NFL Drafts were in 1975 and 1952.
From ‘Cuse to round ☝️.@chanjones55 developed here, got picked 21st overall and has recorded double-digit sacks in four of the last-five seasons. He led the @NFL with 17 of them last year pic.twitter.com/90EDepKyhj— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) April 23, 2018
While it’s not as if every one of those drafts with Syracuse players featured a bunch of first-rounders, this sort of long-term success earning selections puts SU up there with some of the best programs -- well beyond the by-the-numbers pedigree on the field. At this point, just a handful of schools can claim the same rate of success, and all of those (names like USC, Florida, Michigan) are the bluebloods you’d expect.
As we’ve seen on the basketball side, getting players picked is more important than what happens once they get there. If Syracuse football can change the conversation back to turning two- and three-star recruits into first-rounders, then that’s an even bigger chip to play on the recruiting front. Football doesn’t have one-and-dones, of course, so it’s a little different since you have to wait three years for the draft. Still, if Dino Babers can start changing the conversation around SU’s draft prospects, that’ll only help improve things on the field with better talent coming in the door.