While Syracuse Orange football is either reborn or rebooted, or both, the uphill battle back to relevancy didn’t lead to much fan fair in Nashville this weekend. That’s because just Chris Slayton heard his name called during the NFL Draft — with the defensive tackle being taken by the New York Giants.
Here’s guessing that Roger Goodell will be saying the words “Syracuse University” into microphones more often in the coming years, assuming Dino Babers stays at the helm in Central New York. And that you’ll actually be able to hear the Commissioner over the boos and the “You suck, Roga!” chants.
The end of the three-day draft festivities, however, doesn’t mean the end of the line for players who weren’t selected. No, in fact, those players might have a better chance at making a roster than, say, Mr. Irrelevant. The undrafted free agents can gain the opportunity to sign contracts with teams that presumably wanted them but didn’t take them during the draft itself. The player can winnow his list down to teams that have an interest in them and, just as importantly, a need for them.
With that in mind, there are plenty of former Orange players who are being gobbled up by NFL teams, in hopes of ultimately making a roster and continuing their chance at playing on the next level.
(We will update as signings happen, so make sure to refresh the page!)
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
The six-foot-four senior is heading to play in Andy Reid’s offense-friendly system in Kansas City. Custis caught 51 passes for 906 yards and six touchdowns last season, becoming a standout player by the time the team played in the Camping World Bowl. While he didn’t have eye-popping stats in 2018, Custis certainly proved his worth by coming up with key catches in some big games—making critical plays at Clemson and in the home comeback win over North Carolina (and in the win over West Virginia). Given the uncertainty in KC with Tyreek Hill, Custis’ size and skill might be assets that help him make the roster.
Koda Martin, offensive tackle (draft profile)
Team: Los Angles Chargers
Dino Babers’ son-in-law will get a chance to play professionally in Los Angeles. Martin, an All-ACC third-team selection, started every game this past season for Syracuse. And while it wasn’t a surprise he wasn’t drafted this weekend, Martin’s size and experience gives him a chance at actually making the roster and protecting for Phil Rivers. The Bolts, however, did pick up another o-lineman in Trey Pipkins during the first round on Thursday, so competition will be tough for the ex-Orange big.
Cody Conway, offensive tackle (draft profile)
Team: Tennessee Titans
Like Martin, the left tackle also started every game this past season, recording 30.5 pancake blocks for the Orange. At six-foot-six and 300-plus pounds, Conway cuts an imposing figure and has a chance at finding a spot in Tennessee. Although, the Titans did snag Nate Davis at pick 82.
Dontae Strickland, running back
Team: Arizona Cardinals
The senior running back had his share of struggles at Syracuse, but he did finish third on the team in rushing (588 yards) and third in touchdowns (6) this past season. It will be an uphill battle for Strickland to make the team, but the Cards really only have David Johnson cemented in as a definite when it comes to the running back position.