It is lucky number 13 this year for the number of players the Syracuse Orange football program will have available to be drafted. They are, in alphabetical order: offensive lineman Lou Alexander, offensive lineman Zack Chibane, tight end Carl Cutler, linebacker Siriki Diabate, defensive lineman Deon Goggins, wide receiver Alec Lemon, quarterback Ryan Nassib, offensive lineman Justin Pugh, wide receiver Marcus Sales, defensive lineman Brandon Sharpe, tight end David Stevens, defensive back Shamarko Thomas, and linebacker Dan Vaughan. Each player mentioned finished their collegiate eligibility, except for Pugh, who had one year remaining for collegiate play.
Below you will find my take on those players I believe will have an opportunity in the NFL:
I believe Doug Marrone will take quarterback Ryan Nassib in the first round if no one grabs him. My suggestion is for the Buffalo Bills to spend their eighth overall pick on a defensive player and then trade for another first-round pick, using that to get Nassib. I believe Nassib is a 2nd-round pick, but I don't know if Marrone and the Bills want to chacne that with the Jacksonville Jaguars picking at the top of the 2nd round. No matter where he goes, mark my words, Nassib will end up being the best quarterback that comes out of this draft.
Defensive back Shamarko Thomas is going to be a late 1st, early 2nd round pick. He led every single defensive back of the 59 others in the NFL combine in 4 of 5 tests. He has grit, heart, and belief in himself, which you cannot teach. Plenty secondaries need a player like this. The Dallas Cowboys haven't seen a hard-hitting secondary guy since they let Roy Williams go.
Offensive lineman Justin Pugh will go in the 1st round. He may have to move to the inside due to size, but he is capable of protecting both the passer and rusher. He should be the highest Syracuse player drafted.
For everyone who looks at Pugh, you have to see fellow offensive lineman Zack Chibane in the tape. It's hard not to. He has been the most consistently productive lineman for the Orange and has had to play center, tackle, and guard on the offensive line. Having that experience, as well as special teams' work, makes Chibane a steal for any team smart enough to take him. I have Chibane off the board in Day 3.
Wide receiver Alec Lemon has told me numerous times he wants to work on his speed. That is an area of concern to some. But if it was all about speed, Usain Bolt would be in the NFL right now. I think Lemon goes in the 4th round. He takes care of the ball, can catch it anywhere on the field, is unafraid of getting hit, and commands a look.
Defensive lineman Deon Goggins is a steal. He has heart and a no-quit mentality. You can't keep this man away from eating, no matter how far you put the plate from him. Goggins is a fourth- or fifth-round selection in my mind. He has the versatility to play on the interior or exterior of the defensive line, which helps make him more marketable.
Wide receiver Marcus Sales and defensive lineman Brandon Sharpe are two players that, to me, will have to be picked up as free agents and work through training camp to make an NFL roster, which both are capable of.