We’ve mentioned the NFL Draft at least a few times this month, specifically around which Syracuse Orange players could be chosen during this weekend’s event. Steve Ishmael and Zaire Franklin seem like the favorites there, though Jordan Martin may surprise. Should none of them get picked, it would be the first time since 1948-49 that the Orange were shut out in back to back years.
If a Syracuse player IS picked, however, that name is almost certainly going to be called in the seventh (and final) round.
There’s always a lot of attention paid to first round selections — Syracuse has had 20 of those in its history — but what about the number of players that have been picked in the final round?
Below, a quick rundown of every former SU player to drafted in the seventh (or final) round, starting with the most recent:
2016: Riley Dixon, P, Denver Broncos (7th pick, 7th round)
Dixon needs no introduction. After an impressive college career and brief Heisman run, he parlayed that into a selection by the Broncos. And two years later, while he never displayed the strongest leg, he was able to maintain the pinpoint accuracy that made him such an asset to the Orange. Just this past weekend, he was traded to the Giants, a team that could use both punting help and an assist at running back. Luckily, Dixon has experience with both of those roles.
2009: Ryan Durand, OG, Tennessee Titans (30th pick, 7th round)
Despite being on some bad SU teams, Durand still managed to be a standout under GERG (second-team All-Big East in 2008), and thankfully just got the hell out of there. He was on the Titans’ roster for over three years, but only played in one game while in Tennessee. Durant also signed with Miami in 2012, and was on the Chiefs’ practice squad in 2013.
2007: Kelvin Smith, LB, Miami Dolphins (9th pick, 7th round)
Smith was a productive college player for Syracuse, especially early on, when he earned All-Freshman honors. However, he never really parlayed that into NFL success. He recorded just one tackle in his pro career, spending the final few seasons on practice squads around the NFC (Panthers, Giants, Cowboys, Bears) and called it a career in 2011.
2006: James Wyche, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (5th pick, 7th round)
A four-year player with Syracuse, Wyche was a quality pass-rusher and disruptive force throughout his career. His ability to get in on tackles, disrupt opposing passers and create turnovers was enough to get a look from the Jags in round seven. But he only managed one tackle during this time in the league. His career wrapped up in 2010, as a member of the Seahawks’ practice squad.
2006: Ryan LaCasse, LB, Baltimore Ravens (11th pick, 7th round)
LaCasse is one of the top pass-rushers Syracuse has had, racking up over 16 sacks at defensive end, plus another 23.5 tackles for loss. He was first-team All-Big East despite being on a pretty terrible Orange squad. Once in the league, he lasted just one year and recorded no stats. But he did earn a ring with the Colts, who won the Super Bowl that February.
2004: Christian Ferrara, DT, San Francisco 49ers (25th pick, 7th round)
Ferrara was a dynamic interior lineman for SU, earning all-conference honors and disrupting opposing offenses with regularity. He also participated in multiple post-season all-star games as one of the Big East’s top defensive performers. However, he never suited up for a game after being picked by the Niners.
2004: Kevin Sampson, OT, Kansas City Chiefs (30th pick, 7th round)
A long-term contributor for SU, Sampson ended up playing in 44 games (and starting 24) in his college career. Kansas City took a flyer on him late in the seventh round, and he actually appeared in six games in year one. By year two, he earned a start, and in year three with the Chiefs, he started in six games. He lasted one more season in the league as a member of the practice squad for both Washington and Carolina.
2000: Mark Baniewicz, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars (41st pick, 7th round)
The All-Big East performer was an enormous talent, both in terms of actual skill for the Orangemen and his size (6-foot-6, 312 pounds). Jacksonville, then all-in on Tony Boselli at tackle, never really budged on getting him game time, however. Baniewicz was on the Jags for two years but never played.
1998: Antwaune Ponds, LB, Washington (17th pick, 7th round)
Ponds is third in solo tackles in Syracuse history, with 308 -- one of just three players in school history to rack up over 300 individual stops. Once he got to Washington, he played in three games, but his career was over that same year after he faced domestic assault charges.
1998: Jim Tuner, WR, Carolina Panthers (39th pick, 7th round)
Turner was a capable deep threat at Syracuse, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch over the course of his career. He was also a prolific kick returner, with 24.8 yards per return and two touchdowns over a four-year stretch. That was not enough to get him on the field in four years with Carolina, though.
1988: Tim Vesling, K, Indianapolis Colts (22nd pick, 12th round)
Yes, back then there were 12 rounds. Vesling has actually compiled some of the most extra point-kicking stats in school history, with 71 career PATs and 43 in one season (1987). But he never kicked for the Colts.
1987: Wes Dove, DE, Seattle Seahawks (5th pick, 12th round)
Dove was a standout athlete, and a looming figure at 6-foot-7. Unfortunately, he also got mixed up in steroids and sadly took his own life in March of 1989. He’d appeared in just two games as a pro.
1986: Don McAulay, K, New England Patriots (27th pick, 12th round)
Don McAulay’s the only Syracuse player to ever hit five field goals in one game at the Carrier Dome. His 47 career field goals are also one of the highest marks in Orange(men) history. McAulay never played for New England, though.
1979: Dave Jacobs, K, Denver Broncos (22nd pick, 12th round)
We’ve been really good at sending kickers to the NFL... particularly in the seventh round, apparently. Jacobs, an All-American, is one of the many on the list and one of the only ones to really get on the field. He hit 12 field goals total in three different seasons (1978, 1981, 1987) for the Jets, Browns and Eagles, respectively. He now owns Shirt World on Marshall Street.
1964: Dave Archer, OT, Cleveland Browns (12th pick, 20th round)
Will one (or more) Orange players add their names to this list? We’ll find out soon enough come Saturday.