Everyone’s been talking about it seemingly since last April, but the 2018 NFL Draft starts this Thursday. While Syracuse’s 4-8 record may not scream NFL prospects, there are a few names that Orange fans could potentially hear called this week. While it likely won’t be on day one or two, Saturday could hear an SU name or two called. Recent trends have not been kind to SU’s draft prospects. Zero Syracuse players were taken in the 2017 draft. The same happened in 2015. Punter Riley Dixon is the only saving grace from striking out in three straight seasons when he was taken in the seventh round by Denver. In fact, Syracuse is in danger of going back-to-back seasons without a NFL draft pick for the first time since 1948 and 1949. Here’s who can prevent that streak from snapping.
Steve Ishmael, WR
Ishmael was one of the players that was snubbed of an NFL Combine invite. However, the wideout has said he has used that as motivation throughout his workout process. After a record shattering year in 2017, Ishmael has the frame to be an NFL wideout. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, the receiver showed how he uses that frame in 2017 with physical play throughout against some of the nation’s best cornerbacks. It also doesn’t hurt that his brother, Kemal, is a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons. Ishmael is the Orange’s best chance at getting drafted, and could hear his name called around the fifth round.
Zaire Franklin, LB
Franklin was consistently the Orange’s best defensive player throughout his time in central New York. His leadership and intelligent manner should serve him well in interviews with teams. But the knock on Franklin is his size, however NFL teams are more inclined these days by speed than height and weight. The linebacker blew up at his pro day. His 40 time (4.58 seconds) would have ranked fifth amongst linebackers at the Combine. Along with that, he benched more reps than any Combine invite linebacker. A team may take a flier on Franklin late in the draft, but he will certainly be picked up as an undrafted free agent.
Parris Bennett, LB
Bennett was the Pippen to Franklin’s Jordan throughout their times at Syracuse. Minus the six championships. Bennett may have been overshadowed at times by Franklin’s stardom, but the Michigan native was consistently the Orange’s best tackler and was the first SU player to log 100 or more tackles in back-to-back seasons since Keith Bulluck did it in 1998 and 1999. That turned Bulluck into a first round pick and All-Pro NFL linebacker. However, Bennett isn’t nearly the physical specimen that Bulluck was. But like Franklin, he could still find a home as an undrafted free agent.