Franklin was the first SU selection since 2016, when Riley Dixon was chosen by the Broncos in the last round as well. They’re the only two Orange football players to be drafted in the last four years.
Despite the recent downturn, however, there’s some hope things can change next spring. Obviously it’s early, but we wanted to take a quick look ahead at the Syracuse seniors that could end up hearing their names called in the 2019 NFL Draft. To be honest, there are a number of them.
Cody Conway, offensive tackle
Conway’s been among the best one or two offensive linemen on the roster for the past couple seasons now, manning the tackle spot with effectiveness despite tumult around him and a run game that’s only sporadically effective. The big (6-foot-6, 300 pounds) blocker has pretty much been a contributor since day one. His lengthy tenure as a starter, big frame, and strong footwork should all help him out. Conway’s also stayed pretty healthy throughout his time at SU -- no easy feat for a player in the trenches.
Eric Dungey, quarterback
I’d start by saying that without getting through the season unscathed, there isn’t a chance for the daredevil senior to be selected. Dungey has yet to play a full season yet for Syracuse, so if three straight seasons of injuries weren’t enough to scare teams off, a fourth certainly would. But if he can improve his accuracy, show some pocket presence and make better decisions when he does choose to run the football? Perhaps a team takes a flyer on the obvious talent.
Koda Martin, offensive tackle
Assuming the scary heat stroke incident from early April was a one-off thing, Martin jumping into the fray could present an interesting opportunity for both Syracuse and the grad transfer. Like Conway, he presents some considerable size, and his time in the SEC will likely put him a little higher up on scouts’ radars (at least for initial takes and evaluations). There’s a lot riding on how this season turns out, however.
Ravian Pierce, tight end
Pierce is a big, fast target at 6-foot-3 and 237 pounds. After a productive two years in the JUCO ranks, he caught 29 passes for 263 yards and four touchdowns last year — and that’s with him also being plugged in quite a bit to block. With the offensive line a potential strength this season, that should free him up more to make plays and create mismatches all over the defense. A breakout season (far from out of the question) could put him in rare air with some of the best tight end prospects of the 2019 draft class.
Aaron Roberts, offensive guard
Roberts comes back after a year, and has the opportunity to walk right back into his role as a standout guard for Syracuse who switched off with Conway as SU’s top offensive lineman. The 6=foot-4, 297-pound Chicago product had five different games with four or more knockdown blocks back in 2016. He’s quick with a big wingspan, and his absence was sorely missed in the middle of the SU line last year. Improvement for Syracuse’s line could absolutely earn him some individual pre-draft attention.
Chris Slayton, defensive tackle
Slayton’s been the heart of the Syracuse defensive line for years, disrupting both the pass and run games, and stuffing the middle for a position group that’s largely struggled beyond him recently. At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, he has the sort of size and strength that’s required at the next level, and is not necessarily dependent on scheme at all to succeed. He’s aggressive and one of the most powerful players on the team. Another rock-solid season for the Orange could see him get some late-round attention.
This isn’t to say that others can’t play their way into consideration. But these six are probably the most likely right now. Feel strongly that another Orange player should be on this list (or that one we included shouldn’t be)? Share your own hot draft takes below.