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Will Eric Dungey Play in the NFL?

Eric Dungey walked off the field for the last time in a Syracuse uniform, and he did so in style, passing Ryan Nassib to become the Orange’s all-time passing leader and cementing his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in SU history. Orange fans will always remember his Gerry McNamara-esque grit over four years as the starting gunslinger. But now it’s time to think about the next chapter.

Earlier today, Dungey signed with an agency. The Oregon product doesn’t appear to be done playing football.

During his first three years, Dungey’s NFL prospects seemed like a real long shot. He never finished a season healthy and wasn’t maturing as a passer quickly enough. Dungey finished 10th in the ACC in passer rating as a junior after finishing eighth in his first two seasons. His last full game last season was a five interception game against Miami. Frankly, Dungey’s level of pass accuracy was nowhere near pro expectations. 

This season, his pocket passing was better than ever. Dungey ranked a career-best 5th in the ACC in passer rating. Bonafied NFL draft prospects Trevor Lawrence and Ryan Finley finished first and second respectively.

But Dungey still isn’t throwing the ball at an NFL level. He went through some pretty problematic stretches this season, including a three game stretch from Clemson in game six to North Carolina in game eight in which threw one touchdown to three interceptions. That culminated in his benching for the second half against UNC. At another point, the senior went seven quarters without a TD pass. He snapped that streak in the third quarter of the Louisville game. With all that said, Dungey’s arm isn’t what makes him special.

It’s all about Dungey’s legs. He rushed for 15 touchdowns and 754 yards this season. Only three ACC quarterbacks were better, two of them Georgia Tech’s option QBs. Dungey has gained weight consistently over his four years at SU, and he has become increasingly apt to run over defenders or fight for extra yards. He has great speed for the position as well.

That prototype doesn’t always translate to the NFL, however. Plenty of similar college football standouts have flamed out in the pros. Tim Tebow is first to come to mind, but Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller are some other examples. An NFL quarterback is generally someone you can trust to throw a 12 yard out-route on 3rd and ten. Dungey really isn’t that guy.

I’ve been a seller on Dungey’s professional prospects for quite a while now. But Dave Flemming and Rod Gilmour made a stellar comparison on the Camping Word Bowl broadcast. Taysom Hill. Head Coach Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints are using Hill as a utility offensive specialist. The strategy has been especially effective in the red zone. Hill played quarterback at BYU. It’s now impossible to stop thinking about Dungey whenever I watch Hill. They are similar in size, strength, toughness and skill-level.

In reality, Hill is the exception to the rule. And if Dungey gets stuck in scout team purgatory, I’d speculate he won’t stay there for long. He has sustained three hits at Syracuse that resulted in suspicious “upper body injuries.” Recently, former SU linebacker Paris Bennett called it quits on his NFL career due to the risk of head injuries. Dungey is set to earn his degree from the Whitman School of Management, and he completed an internship at Wells Fargo last summer. All of Orange nation will be behind Dungey in his pursuit of professional football, but it will likely disappoint.

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