The next couple of days figure to be big for Syracuse. Matthew Bergeron, Garrett Williams and Sean Tucker are virtual locks to be drafted, while Mikel Jones has a chance as well. On top of those four leading the way for the SU program, Chris Elmore and Andre Szmyt also figure to get a chance with an NFL team in some capacity.
Obviously, this is the biggest moment of these players’ lives and the culmination of a lifetime of work. It’s a proud moment for the program as well. Syracuse didn’t have any players drafted last year, and hasn’t had more than two taken in the same year since 2013 when Justin Pugh, Ryan Nassib and Shamarko Thomas were taken.
It seems like that number will certainly be matched with Bergeron, Williams and Tucker. If Jones is taken as well, SU would have four players taken in the same draft since 2006 (Anthony Smith, Quinn Ojinnaka, James Wyche and Ryan LaCasse).
To round off the “first time since-s,” Bergeron can become the first SU player drafted in the top two rounds since Pugh was taken in the first by the Giants in 2013. Bergeron is a projected second rounder.
Both people within the program and fans should be incredibly proud of what this group accomplished, having seen the growth from a 1-10 2020 season, to making a bowl game last year, to making it to the NFL. On top of that, it’s an opportunity to sell the program. It’s no secret that Syracuse doesn’t have the resources that most power five teams do. So, Dino Babers and company need something else to sell recruits and transfers on.
That something else is a path to the NFL. As many as six players getting a shot at the next level in one year gives prospective SU players a chance to picture themselves in that position. This type of pipeline needs to become consistent. Andre Cisco and Ife Melifonwu got drafted in 2021, plus Trill Williams got a shot as an undrafted free agent. That, coupled with this class shows that Dino Babers can put players in the NFL.
The issue is the hole in 2022. Consistency is key in this scenario. When trying to sell your program to recruits, you want to show them that multiple players in their class will make it after three or four years. Syracuse has a chance to do just that with players like Oronde Gadsden and Marlowe Wax next year, plus plenty of others like Justin Barron and Caleb Okechukwu who may get a chance as well. It all begins this weekend though, with Bergeron, Williams, Tucker and Jones.