Last weekend, sports fans finally got what they were waiting for– the NFL Draft. Two Syracuse players, Alton Robinson and Sterling Hofrichter, were drafted, while a handful of other former Orange players signed as undrafted free agents. Click here for a recap of the weekend.
With the 2020 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, focus is now shifting to the future. There is a lot of talent on the Orange roster this season and many potential future pros. So, here are the top 2021 NFL prospects from Syracuse.
ANDRE CISCO – S
Cisco is a part of the class of 2022, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he declared for the draft early. Honestly, it would be a surprise if he didn’t declare. The safety is one of the best ballhawks in the country. He currently leads the entire nation in career interceptions with 12. Putting him in Syracuse’s new 3-3-5 defense could show off his skills even more. Cisco is a talent that could be taken on Day 1, no doubt about it.
AIRON SERVAIS – C
Projecting offensive lineman’s draft stock is difficult, but Servais could very well be a mid-round pick in 2021. He has been tested in multiple positions at Syracuse and proven that he can handle them. He’s an offensive line Swiss-army-knife. Plus, Servais has been getting some attention from NFL scouts for a little while now. The only downside is his size. He’s currently listed at 6’6, 291 lbs. Most NFL teams would want him a little bigger if they took him, but he still has a year to work on that.
MCKINLEY WILLIAMS – DT
A lot rides on the 2020 season (if there is one) for Williams. He was injured for the majority of last season, but when he came back down the stretch he helped the D-line a lot. Williams is an athletic freak and had good size at 6’4, 283 lbs. His potential is there, he’ll just need to prove it next season. If he does, he could be a late-round pick.
AARON HACKETT – TE
Hackett had a solid junior season. He’s shown he can run-block and one can only assume he will get a lot of targets his senior season with a depleted Syracuse receiving corps. If Hackett can take advantage of that and improve next year, he seems like a solid candidate for a non-risky undrafted free agent.
JOSH BLACK – DL
Pro: strength, Con: injury-prone. Black has dealt with a variety of health issues throughout his time at Syracuse, including a knee injury that took him out for the majority of his sophomore year. However, the guy squats more than 700 pounds. I mean come on. Black’s very athletic and could handle the big boys of the NFL, but scouts will want to see more production out of him and take over the defensive line that is now without Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman next season. Black is very similar to Coleman and could take the same path as an undrafted free agent.
KINGSLEY JONATHAN – EDGE
Jonathan will be a starter for the first time in his career his senior season, which isn’t what you want to hear when discussing NFL prospects. However, he wasn’t dealt a great hand as other very talented edge rushers were in front of him. Jonathan produced when he got in over the past couple years, tallying 49 tackles, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s got the speed and will be relied on heavily to get in the backfield in Syracuse’s new defensive scheme. A strong senior campaign could bolster him into the in-demand undrafted free agent conversation.
ABDUL ADAMS – RB
Adams doesn’t wow you. NFL running back isn’t the first thing you think of when you see him. He’s athletic and has a solid build, but doesn’t have the resume. A 1,000-yard season and two handfuls of touchdowns next year would definitely get some scouts attention. Realistically, does that happen? Probably not. So, Adams is most likely an undrafted free agent that at best makes a practice squad for a couple years.
IFEATU MELIFONWU – CB
Melifonwu is probably the biggest stretch for the 2021 Draft. He would be a better prospect if he stayed at Syracuse all four years and entered the draft in 2022. However, if he decides to pull a Trishton Jackson and go a year before he should, Melifonwu would have to do a lot next season. He was out with injury for a good amount of time last year, but he showed flashes when healthy. If he can be consistent with those flashes, teams might be interested. A late-round pick would be the highest he would go in 2021 though. In 2022, he could kreep into the beginning of Day 3 instead of the end.
So being realistic, Syracuse has three legitimate draft prospects in 2021. The rest will find their way to rosters via free agency. Now, let’s just hope there is a season to be played.