Syracuse has had success over the last several seasons with putting players into the NFL as high draft picks. Coming off of back to back years with first round picks, the Orange had a third and fifth round selection in the 2014 version.
Syracuse will have, once again, several candidates in the 2015 draft who could make an impact at the next level. Mike McAllister and John Garcia Jr. break down the candidates.
OT Sean Hickey
Garcia Jr: 1st Round- A Justin Pugh-like rise stemming from consistent play as a over 2013 and 2014 isn't out of the question for Hickey, who could have been selected in the early rounds had he come out this spring. An improved offense should only help his stock, though his testing numbers will be what seals the deal for what could be the third Round 1 SU player in four seasons.
McAllister: 2nd Round- Hickey has the potential to sneak into the first round with a strong senior season, but I think he falls just outside of that range. He is technically sound, has solid footwork and has improved his strength each season with the Orange.
SS Durell Eskridge (early defection)
Garcia Jr: 2nd Round- Eskridge has the story, size, speed, and highlights to be one of the top handful of safeties coming out in 2015, but like we've listed with several Orange players - he's got to do it consistently. And like Hickey, he's got to stay healthy in the process. The latter may be the biggest hurdle for Eskridge to overcome, though he has the beauty of staying another year if he so chooses. His role will help determine SU's potential jump from .500 club to maybe an 8-win bunch, and that type of impact will be inciting enough to test the NFL waters.
McAllister: 1st Round- Eskridge has ideal size, athleticism and speed for the safety position. He struggles a bit in coverage, but is stout in run support. His raw abilities continue to grow this season, and he finds himself in the back end of the first round.
Garcia Jr: 4th Round- This is the swing-player in the potential draft class. This means he has the most room to help or hurt his stock with his senior campaign. Skill-wise, at nearly 6-foot with great speed, The New Yorker seems like a no-brainer selection in the first few rounds, but he hasn't shown the ability to take over a game at the cornerback position just yet. Added motivation, physicality and the proof of even average ball skills could vault Reddish to possibly the second-earliest pick on this list behind Hickey.
McAllister: 6th Round- Reddish has speed and cover skills. With a strong season, he could move up draft boards as a result. He has to show an ability to be a playmaker this year.
WR Jarrod West
Garcia Jr: Undrafted- West has battled more than consistency issues over his last few seasons, not having been able to step up as the veteran leader many expected him to be after a solid 2012 season as a secondary target for Ryan Nassib and company. While his size will at least create initial attention, his lack of explosion could counter the interest soon after it's present.
McAllister: Undrafted- West had a disappointing junior year, and I expect him to be much better for his final campaign. That said, the lack of explosiveness puts him on the outside looking in of the draft picture.
Garcia Jr: 3rd Round- DD has been the team's top blitzing linebacker for some time, and he's arguably the best pure pass-rusher on the SU roster as well. In today's NFL, with 40 pass attempts from each quarterback seemingly normal, Davis could project as a situational pass-rusher and potentially a special teams ace with the way he runs. Added bulk could help him reach his ceiling (hence the Round 3 listed above) en route to proving he can be a three-down weakside linebacker in the right scheme, but his selling point will be his edge presence against the pass.
McAllister: 5th Round- If Marquis Spruill can go in the fifth, I see no reason why Davis cannot as well. He possesses elite speed for the position and is a strong blitzing linebacker. Hey only be a niche player at the next level, but could have a strong impact as a situational rusher and special teams performer.
Garcia Jr: Undrafted- Lynch is another that SU fans have been waiting on to take the next step. Now a rising-senior, the undersized Georgian will need a major breakout season to earn a spot on NFL radars come 2015 NFL Draft time. Unless he somehow adds bulk without losing strength while proving he can be an inside linebacker, perhaps in a 3-4 scheme, it's tough to project a team selecting him.
McAllister: 7th Round- Lynch is undersized, but is solid in run support and off the edge. That skill set may be enough for a team to take a flyer late.
Garcia Jr: 6th Round- PTG is a new-age running back that catches the ball out of the backfield with ease and runs tougher in between the tackles than his frame suggests. So long as he continues to make some "wow" plays every so many touches, there's no reason to think a team won't take a chance on him late with a third-down back and return-man role in mind.
McAllister: Undrafted- Gulley is a solid all-around collegiate running back. With a solid senior season, he should be in a training camp somewhere with his ability to contribute both in the air and on the ground. The problem is that running back has become a devalued position at the next level where there are always an abundance of prospects.
DT Eric Crume
Garcia Jr: 7th Round- Jay Bromley was a leader from Day One at SU and improved by a big margin each season before becoming an easy All-ACC pick this past fall. Can Crume make the same jump this year? No other defensive player in the class has shown the dominant flashes that Crume has, but the NFL is about consistency and sustainability. He'll flash enough to hear his name called, but it'll come on the final day of the event.
McAllister: Undrafted- Crume will be imperative to the success of the Syracuse defense this season as the leader in the middle. He is a bit undersized and lacks the athleticism of a Jay Bromley. Crume is a solid college defensive tackle, but is on the outside of the draft picture at this point.