The Syracuse Orange had two players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. And while it would’ve been great to hear another name or two called, it’s still some solid year-over-year progress that we hopefully build upon going forward.
Even though the 2021 draft is still 12 months away and a lot can change between now and then, we wanted to dig into which Orange players could hear their names called. Some of these are certainly more likely than others. So if we’re wrong about any or all of these names, apologies in advance.
Andre Cisco, safety
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve mentioned Cisco as a future NFL talent here, and it’s unlikely to be the last either. Cisco’s one of the country’s top ballhawks, a player who actively gets better game over game, and arguably the best player on the Syracuse roster this year. While he’s a junior in 2020, he’s potentially a first-round pick if he declares. So keep an eye on that.
McKinley Williams, defensive tackle
Williams’s return certainly helped SU’s defensive front look a lot better over the final few games of 2019, and that was without him being 100% healthy. The size and run-stopping abilities are already there, and he also has an impressive amount of athleticism for a guy who’s 6-foot-4 and 283 pounds. A lot rides on this year, when he’s clearly the top linemen on the team — but without the assist from elite edge rushers like Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson.
Aaron Hackett, tight end
Hackett’s shown himself to be a great blocker and impressive pass-catcher when actually given the opportunity. For our sake, we’re hoping the Orange use him a bit more in the red zone and an uptick in production there could help Hackett move up draft boards too. He could be a surprising pick — and if not, he’ll be an in-demand free agent afterward.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, cornerback
Melinfonwu’s another player who has eligibility left after this year, but a strong season could push him to declare. Last season, he had some excellent moments in coverage, and was one of the better players in the ACC in terms of deflecting passes (he was top five with 1.11 per game). Having a brother who was picked a few years ago also helps put him on teams’ radars.
Kingsley Jonathan, defensive end
Jonathan’s likely a starter for the first time in 2020, but the system’s there for him to put together a strong campaign. He’s actually been pretty productive player for Syracuse despite being limited and playing behind strong pass-rushers like Coleman and Robinson. His speed and athleticism are enough to be considered a prospect if he puts a solid effort in.
Abdul Adams, running back
Adams is a stretch right now, but like several players above, he has the size and athletic ability to change that. If he can showcase more of the skill and power we saw from him at Oklahoma, coupled with a 1,000-yard season here, that’s going to be enough for draft hype. If not, he’s likely going the free agent route at best.
Have doubts about the names above? Think there’s anyone else who should be on here? Share your own potential draftees below.