After the final whistle of Syracuse’s Camping World Bowl victory over West Virginia, celebration ensued. But after that, a handful of seniors began the steep, uphill climb to the next level. This week’s NFL Draft has more potential Orange prospects than we have seen in recent years. But there are also a handful of players that may not hear their name called and can still have productive NFL careers.
The obvious choice for this list is the guy who put the Orange on the map this past season. Dungey has worked relentlessly to get himself ready for the NFL Draft. He has been training at the Russell Wilson Passing Academy to fix some throwing mechanics to appeal to teams. While quarterback is his end goal, his path to getting there may not start at that position. With teams opting to only carry two and sometimes three quarterbacks on their 53 man roster, it may be tough for a team to find space at that spot for Dungey. But we’ve seen creative offensive minds overtake the league and find places for gadget players, like New Orleans’ Taysom Hill. Dungey is the most competitive athlete regardless of sport that Syracuse has seen in recent memory. You don’t need all 32 NFL coaches to like you. You just need one. Some coach is going to see that competitive spirit and fall in love with it and give him a chance. It’ll be up to Dungey to do the rest.
While Strickland didn’t torch the competition on the ground at Syracuse, there’s no position that is a revolving door quite like running back. We see backs get cycled in and out every week in the NFL. Strickland excelled at pass blocking as well as catching the ball. There’s a spot for that in the league, especially with the ever-expanding aerial attack.
Pierce stands at 6-foot-3 and 244 pounds, which are NFL measurables. He’s gifted offensively, which makes him attractive at the next level. The things he’ll have to improve on are his after the whistle antics and his blocking abilities. But if he can improve, or at least become serviceable, his play in the trenches, there will be a spot for him in the NFL. Offense reigns supreme and tight end is an ever-growing position. Pierce’s strengths may be enough to exploit that.
There have been questions about Guthrie at every juncture and he hasn’t just passed every test, he’s excelled at them. As a former JUCO transfer, Guthrie has molded out a nice path for himself that even he may not have expected to be on three years ago. He was the Orange’s top tackler and frequently made noise in the backfield as well. All of this was good enough to earn him All-ACC second team honors as a part of much improved Orange defense. There were questions about the SU linebackers heading into 2018, but Guthrie quickly shut those down. He’s a surefire tackler, but he’ll have to prove in camps that he can do it at the next level.