You probably weren’t aware of this because, sadly, it gets next to no publicity, but the NFL Draft starts tonight. Syracuse didn’t have anyone drafted last year, and is looking to avoid duplicating that and could have multiple players picked before the end of the day on Saturday. Ron Thompson, Riley Dixon, and Rob Trudo are all players who could hear their names called.
Since 2010, there have been 11 Syracuse players drafted. In 2014, both Jay Bromley and Marquis Spruill were selected. In 2013, Justin Pugh, Ryan Nassib, and Shamarko Thomas heard their names called. In 2012, both Chandler Jones and Andrew Tiller were picked. In 2011, two more players – Delone Carter and Doug Hogue – were taken. And in 2010, both Arthur Jones and Mike Williams were selected.
So how have they fared since being selected?
Well, eight of those 11 players are still active in the NFL, and unfortunately one of the three has injury at least partly to blame for his quick exit from the NFL: Marquis Spruill. Spruill, as shown on the HBO series Hard Knocks, blew out his knee in his first training camp with the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the fifth round, and while he was kept on the IR that season, he never got another chance with Atlanta. He was recently signed by the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL.
The other two players who are now out of the league were the two players from the 2011 draft, Delone Carter and Doug Hogue. Carter was selected in the fourth round by Indianapolis, playing 27 games in three seasons with the Colts and the Jaguars. Hogue, meanwhile, was taken in the fifth round and played 18 games over two seasons for a couple teams, including the team that drafted him, the Detroit Lions. He’s been out of the league since the end of the 2012 season.
But eight of the 11 players are still going strong in the NFL, with Mike Williams just being signed by Kansas City after missing all of 2015, after his career was briefly derailed by some personal and professional issues.
Breaking down where each player was drafted, the average round is 3.8 (Bromley – 3, Spruill – 5, Pugh – 1, Nassib – 4, Thomas – 4, C. Jones – 1, Tiller – 6, Carter – 4, Hogue – 5, Williams – 4, A. Jones – 5). That number is bolstered by first rounders Pugh and Jones, who have been mainstays in the starting lineups for their respective teams since their rookie seasons. Pugh has started all 44 games he’s played, while Jones has started 52 of his 55 career games and was recently the centerpiece in a blockbuster trade from the Patriots to the Cardinals, and remains one of the fastest rising defensive end stars in the league. Overwhelmingly, though, Orange players tend to be picked in the 4th and 5th rounds in recent history.
Overall, the last 11 picks for Syracuse have combined to play in 344 games, starting 187, collectively. Jay Bromley and Andrew Tiller emerged as rotation players last season after slow starts to their careers, with Bromley starting four games at defensive tackle for the Giants while Tiller started seven games on San Francisco’s offensive line. Art Jones remains an important piece for the defensive line in Indianapolis, but missed all of last season with an injury. He’s started 23 games and played in 55 overall. Shamarko Thomas, meanwhile, was picked by the Steelers as one of that team’s safeties of the future but nagging injuries have hampered his career, with 40 games played in three seasons and only two starts under his belt.
Interestingly, there are only three players from Syracuse who have failed to start a single game since being drafted: Spruill, obviously, along with Hogue and Nassib. Nassib, of course, has had both the blessing and curse of being drafted by New York. It’s a blessing because he wasn’t rushed into a situation in which he had to start from the jump, but it’s a bit of a curse because he’s playing behind one of the Iron Men in professional football in Eli Manning.
Nassib has looked terrific in limited action, playing five games in his three seasons and completing 9-of-10 passes for 128 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He should eventually get an opportunity to start, and could wind up being either an interesting piece of trade bait or a hot commodity on the free agent market sooner than later in a league that’s always looking for quarterbacks.
At this point, if I had to rank the last 11 Syracuse draft picks based on how their careers have gone and how they could go in the future, it’d probably look like this: Chandler Jones, Justin Pugh, Mike Williams, Arthur Jones, Ryan Nassib, Jay Bromley, Shamarko Thomas, Andrew Tiller, Delone Carter, Doug Hogue, and by virtue of never getting a chance to play in a game, Marquis Spruill has to be slotted in that 11th spot.
Jones is a legitimate star, Pugh has been a very solid player throughout his young career, and Williams, particularly early in his career, was a quality second receiver. Jones has won a Super Bowl ring and is still a good rotational guy, Nassib’s best days are clearly ahead of him, and Bromley is working his way into hopefully an Art Jones-type career at DT. Carter didn’t pan out, rushing for just 499 yards and five touchdowns in his three seasons, and Hogue never really became more than a special teams player.
It’s hard to say what kinds of careers guys like Ron Thompson, Riley Dixon, and Rob Trudo might wind up having. There’s a solid chance that of those three, only one or two get picked this weekend. In any event, it’s always interesting to go back and see how Syracuse guys have done in the NFL in recent years, and encouraging to realize that recent history suggests that if Thompson, Dixon, or Trudo hear their names called there’s a pretty decent chance they’ll not only play a few years in the league, but have a chance to become solid contributors to their franchises.