For the third straight year, Syracuse football did not have an offensive or defensive player selected in the NFL draft. While SU has struggled to produce NFL-caliber talent on the gridiron in recent years, this time around was somewhat mind-boggling.
Wideout Amba Etta-Tawo put up video game numbers in his lone season on the Hill, shattering nearly every single-season receiving record. However, that was only good enough to land the Maryland transfer a spot as an undrafted free agent on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Etta-Tawo was a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff award and played for a Power Five school. What is there not to like about his talent? He finished amongst the NCAA’s elite statistically, beating out guys in most statistical categories like John Ross, Mike Williams and Corey Davis, all of which were top ten picks.
While Dino Babers has only patrolled the Carrier Dome sidelines for one season, this is not the first time he has coached a receiver that put up gaudy numbers. At Bowling Green, Babers coached Roger Lewis, who actually beat out Etta-Tawo in nearly every receiving category. Lewis, like Etta-Tawo, ranked in the top ten of nearly every receiving category, but winded up undrafted. It’s becoming more and more evident that the college numbers do not mean as much as the eye test for some of these receivers.
There is a track record of Babers assisting in sending guys to the NFL, but these are guys who are playing in the Big 12 at Baylor (Josh Gordon, Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams) and were not necessarily subject to Babers system since he was the wide receivers coach.
The fact of the matter is, Babers did not come to Syracuse to produce first round draft picks. He came to win football games. Do you think Urban Meyer is sorry that Tim Tebow’s NFL career didn’t pan out? Meyer isn’t even to blame for Tebow’s NFL shortcomings. The quarterback turned outfielder simply was a fish out of water at the next level. I think they’re both happy that they won two national championships instead. Sure making it to the league is a lifelong goal for many of these guys, but Babers wants players to fit his system, and those guys may not be synonymous with NFL talent. But as long as he wins games, it should not matter that his guys are not going to the league.