The NFL Draft is right around the corner. The first round starts April 29th, and we’ll likely see a few familiar Orange names come off the board in the days following. After a tough 1-10 2020 season, it’s encouraging to see some of SU’s talent get their due on draft boards.
At this point, mock drafts and NFL analysts believe that a trio of talented Syracuse defensive backs will be taken decently high in the draft. Safeties Trill Williams and Andre Cisco and cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu are all expected to hear their names called, and all three have generated some buzz among draft analysts. Let’s take a look at each player and what draft analysts have to say about them.
Meliwonfu’s skillset has him higher than either of his SU defensive backfield teammates on mock drafts. ESPN.com’s draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay’s alternating mock draft has Melifonwu going No. 70 to Philadelphia, while The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Iffy at No. 57 for his Top 300 Overall Prospects. McShay is the one who selected Melifonwu on the ESPN mock draft, and notes that while he “needs some refining…he has a lot of upside as a press corner.” Brugler’s assessment is similar and explains that although Melifonwu needs to “improve his anticipation,” he has “rare physical gifts (length, speed fluidity) to become an NFL starter.”
With these evaluations in mind, it’s reasonable to think Melifonwu goes somewhere in the mid-round range and carves out a role for a team in need of secondary help.
Cisco comes into the draft with more collegiate accolades than either of his SU teammates. The former ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and 2018 All-ACC Selection is the 61st overall prospect on ESPN Analyst Todd McShay’s board. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Cisco 98th overall and calls him “an NFL starter if he cuts down on the negative plays.”
Like Melifonwu, Cisco has obvious talent and will likely find a place on an NFL depth chart once he gets a bit more seasoning at the pro level. Expect Cisco to go in the mid-rounds like Melifonwu.
Williams played five games in 2020 before opting out of the season to focus on the NFL draft. Dane Brugler’s Athletic board has Williams 172nd and lauds his “acceleration, physicality and competitive juices,” judging that he “projects as a developmental outside zone cornerback or nickel safety.” CBS Sports’ latest mock draft had Williams going 140th overall as a 4th round compensatory pick.
Williams is the lowest-rated prospect of the SU’s DB trio, but still projects as a mid-to-late round prospect. He’ll likely be called in the later rounds of the draft and develop into a more niche role as a pro.