For the second year in a row, the Syracuse Orange had one player selected in the NFL Draft. Both Zaire Franklin in 2018 and Chris Slayton this year were selected in the seventh round of the draft, but this fact should make Syracuse fans feel more pride than sadness.
There were 28 draft picks from ACC schools in 2019. The Clemson Tigers led the way with six selections, followed by the Miami Hurricanes with five. The Boston College Eagles had four dudes drafted — and three of those were in taken in the first three rounds of the draft.
So what does it say about Dino Babers and his staff that the Orange produced a 10-win season without the benefit of a wealth of NFL talent? Certainly Syracuse has had some very good college football players and the intention here isn’t to disparage their talent. Without the talent and leadership of these players the Orange wouldn’t have been able to deliver as we saw them do last season.
The 2018 season was validation to the belief that Babers asked fans to have when he began his tenure. He asked us to trust he could deliver results and while it was up and down his first two seasons we saw glimpses those years in upsets over Clemson and Virginia Tech. Last year showed the “consistently good” that Babers has been striving to achieve and it was done without the benefit of a couple of elite starts pulling the rest of the team forward like Dwight Freeney did in 2001.
If Syracuse can keep the momentum going it’s likely the number of draft selections increases. But even if that doesn’t mean multiple first-round picks, it doesn’t equate to the Orange being unable to compete.
One of the reasons we’ve advocated for having a football coach with a “system” is that it can help mitigate a talent gap (and the recruiting advantages many of our conference-mates have over us in the ACC), and Dino Babers trusts his system can do just that. So let BC brag about getting guys picked while at the same time asking for their head coach to get replaced. We’ll be over here worrying more about counting victories.