In our early draft projections back in November, we felt no Orange would be selected on the first night. We were wrong. Ryan Nassib’s stock dropped, while Justin Pugh’s rose. We pretty much pegged Shamarko Thomas accurately. Here’s a look at where Syracuse players have been drafted through the four rounds:
Round 1: (#19 overall) Justin Pugh, New York Giants.
Good fit for Pugh. The Giants have major issues on the offensive line as most of the hogs have been there since the ’07 Super Bowl and are old and injury prone. GM Jerry Reese was focusing on lineman, and got a smart, consistent, versatile with his first pick. Some think it’s a reach, and certainly few figured Pugh would go in the first 20 picks. But he goes to a winning organization and doesn’t have to be a savior left tackle. He does need to step in an contribute immediately though. Good to have another Orange selected in the first round. Only helps the program, and recruits with NFL dreams.
Round 4: (#110) Ryan Nassib, New York Giants.
The Giants have a quarterback in his prime in Eli Manning, and a serviceable back up in David Carr. So why did Reese trade up to snag his second Orange of the draft? To use his as a trade chip down the road. Like the Packers stockpiling quarterbacks in the Brett Favre era, the Giants clearly felt they were buying a rising stock at a low price. If Nassib starts developing into a good signal caller, New York can deal him for draft picks. Alex Smith went for a pair of second-rounders. So did Matt Schaub to the Texans. The Bengals got a second-round pick for Carson Palmer. Good news for Nassib is the pressure won’t be on to produce immediately. Bad news is he won’t be starting anytime soon. The fact he fell to the 4th round tells you NFL execs felt he was a project.
Round 4: (#111) Shamarko Thomas, Pittsburgh Steelers.
Any defensive player should love heading to the Steel City. Dick Lebeau has proven to be a Hall of Fame mastermind on D. Thomas is a bit undersized for the league at just a shade over 5’8″, but if there’s a place to succeed it’s Pittsburgh. While the Steelers have Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, both safeties are getting up there in age. Troy has been banged up for a few years now. Thomas will be able to learn under the best, and potentially be used in nickel and dime situations.