While Syracuse found a way to stick the dagger in UConn Saturday night, plenty of Orange players were participating in the NFL Combine this weekend. With the draft exactly two months away, The Fizz ranked the draft stock of SU’s top talent.
- Chandler Jones, DE, 6’5”, 265 lbs.
He’s without a doubt, the most talented Orange player in this year’s draft. Chan has become a popular sleeper pick and is rising up potential mock draft boards. His speed and quickness has had scouts drooling since his sophomore season. Jones was by far the most agile member of the Orange defense, even despite missing five games. He was one of the few game-changers on SU’s D. His acrobatic interception against Pittsburgh in the season finale in December underscored his complete package. Athleticism. Instincts. High football IQ.
Playing in only seven games and often double-teamed, he still managed 4.5 sacks and 38 tackles. In Indy, Jones surely impressed evaluators with his charisma and upbeat personality. His draft stock is sure to rise. He may be taken in the first, but assuredly will not slip below the second.
Projection: Late 1st – Early 2nd round.
- Phillip Thomas, S, 6’0” 197 lbs.
Let’s just look on the bright side first. Six interceptions in only ten games led the entire Big East, and he totaled 82 tackles. Great knack to find the football, and plays with a ton of physical energy on the field. But Thomas will be forced to address why he was suspended the final two games of the 2011 season (some have speculated a failed drug test), which could deter some teams.
He might be the perfect player to build his stock at the combine. His passion will be evident, and so will his physicality. His weight is up, and if he is up front and honest about his suspension, Thomas could be a mid-rounder this April.
Projection: 4th – 5th round.
- Nick Provo, TE, 6’3”, 250 lbs.
Provo clearly grew into Ryan Nassib’s go-to guy in clutch situations last season, and his shifty ability to find open spots all over the field is what is going to have NFL scouts impressed. At the combine though, the TE will be limited because of the shoulder surgery he had in December. Provo may not be drafted, but teams could give him an extra look as a free agent. His excellent hands and catching ability during his huge senior campaign helps. Provo could get some late round magic.
Projection: 7th round – undrafted.
- Andrew Tiller, OG, 6’4” 340 lbs.
Tiller had a very solid senior season that earned him All-Big East first team honors. His size is his biggest asset, and proved a capable blocker for 1,000-yard rusher Antwon Bailey. His 40-time is pretty slow, and NFL scouts will want to see quicker feet – even on a big lineman. Til was pretty reliable during his years at SU, but he most likely goes undrafted this April.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald