clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Syracuse football: Matthew Bergeron nearly selected in first round by Dallas Cowboys

A testament to Bergeron’s rising draft stock and a lesson about the draft process.

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports of Syracuse Orange offensive tackle Matthew Bergeron’s rising stock prior to the 2023 NFL Draft proved to be true.

Bergeron, who was selected with the 38th pick by the Atlanta Falcons became Syracuse’s highest draft selection since the New York Giants drafted tackle Justin Pugh 19th overall in 2013. The Falcons trading up to get him seemed confusing to some last week, but according to this published conversation within the Dallas Cowboys’ draft room you can see that Atlanta wasn’t the only team coveting the former Syracuse captain.

Bergeron was that close to being a 1st round pick for Dallas, who instead opted to take Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith in the 26th slot.

Will McClay, the Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel, said in the video that the decision to select Smith over Bergeron came down to fit on the team, as well as Dallas’ past draft history with selecting offensive and defensive lineman. Dallas decided to go with the player they felt would help them more next season.

The Falcons feel Bergeron will take on a substantial role immediately in their run-heavy scheme. In 2022, Atlanta finished with the most rush attempts and fourth-most yards per carry in the league, but the second-fewest pass attempts. They used their first rounder (8th overall) to select Texas running back Bijan Robinson, who will pair alongside Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson.

With their intention to move Bergeron inside to guard to start his career, the Falcons expect the former Orange lineman to pave the way for these backs starting in 2023,

NCAA Football: Virginia at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Bergeron surged up the mock drafts with his performances at the Senior Bowl and in workouts leading up to the Draft. Sneaking your way into first round pick consideration despite being on a mediocre team is no joke (see Zay Flowers, BC).

Looking at the bigger picture here, it also highlights a few pointers about the draft. First, team context matters, especially a team’s a) status as a playoff contender, b) direction of the franchise, c) roster needs, and d) past draft history. The debate over Bergeron, however, also highlights the difficulty franchises possess with balancing short-term success with long-term development. In this case, Dallas believed it needed someone on the line of scrimmage who the team thought could be productive on day one.

Garrett Williams went in the third round to Arizona, a team that is in the beginning of a resent under their new HC Jonathan Gannon. Williams won’t have the same expectation to play immediately in Arizona as the team looks at him as a player they will be able to rely upon moving forward.

Sean Tucker is likely disappointed at not being selected, but earning a large guarantee from Tampa Bay and having a path towards making the opening day roster is what matters most. Tucker, Mikel Jones and Andre Szmyt won’t worry about not hearing their name called in the Draft as long as they hear them called in Week One of the NFL season.

Within the context of Syracuse Athletics, it’s also important for these players to capitalize on their opportunities when given to them. We’ll see how that road works for Judah Mintz, as he approached a decision on whether or not to remain in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft. That’s what the draft is all about: taking risks, both from the player and team perspective.

Sometimes, you gotta strike while the iron is hot, right?