For a while now Syracuse has always been known as a basketball school, that just so happened to have a football team. The past few years though Syraucse football has been on the rise, with the teams high point being the huge upset win over West Virginia. With a good nucleus returning and a QB who is ready to take that next level, theres no question that Syracuse can move and become a threat to win the Big East.
Ryan Nassib, QB- I feel as almost this has to be the focus of my draft preview because of how highly I view Nassib compared to other draft eligible QB prospects that are similar to him. Nassib is the kind of QB who is efficient, smart and has a good arm and can make the throws. Being in that almost New York Jets style offense that loves to be physical, Nassib seems to take a backstage to other players. Make no mistake though, Nassib is a quality NFL prospect who stays square and level making his throws and shows the ability to use his feet to make plays as well. His accuracy is good, but certainly can be improved on. Right now he would be someone you take in the 4th or 5th round range and develop down the line, but at worst can be a very solid #2 QB in the NFL.
Alec Lemon, WR- Lemon is Syracuse’s leading receiver from last season, catching 68 balls for 834 yards and 6 touchdowns. At 6’2″, 202 pounds he has some speed to threaten defenses vertically and showed solid hands as a junior last season. I need to see more of him, but he is a draftable player at receiver for Syracuse, and if Nassib’s play improves even more as a senior then Lemon could have a 1,000 yard 8+ touchdown season.
Marcus Sales, WR- Sales was suspended for the season last year but he has been reinstated and is slated to start. The 6’0″, 183 pound receiver has never been a true impact player, but may be ready for a break-out season opposite Lemon with Nassib throwing him the ball. He has speed, solid hands and the raw ability to be a difference maker for a team that lost it’s four leading receivers after Alec Lemon last season, including tight end Nick Provo who led the team in touchdowns with 7. Sales was suspended last year as a result of multiple drug charges, so hopefully he stays out of trouble and has a big year for Syracuse this year.
Justin Pugh, OT- At first watching Syracuse I really didn’t know what to expect after Nassib, but watching Justin Pugh I certainly feel he can become a starting caliber OT in the NFL. He’s more of a power scheme type OT when he goes to the NFL as his feet aren’t as quick as one would want for a zone scheme. Pugh displays a good solid punch, and drives his feet against his opponent to win the matchup. He’s a very strong player who will overpower his opponents, which also can be his worst enemy as well. At times on film he relies on his strength too much and ends up being beaten by a quicker defender. Pugh has a ton of talent, but needs to be put in the right scheme in order for him to succeed.
Deon Goggins, DE- Every time I do these draft previews I try to look for that one under the radar player that no one else seems to be talking about. With Goggins I see a guy who while not noticed as much can become a guy who become a backup caliber DE in the NFL. He’s a strong athlete who plays with proper pad level, plays the run pretty well and can display some pass rush ability. I don’t think he will be more than a backup at the next level, but he could work his way into a DL rotation in the NFL.
Marquis Spruill, MLB*- Spruill enters his junior season with 24 games of starting experience, and is coming off of a season where he totaled 62 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 pass break-ups and a forced fumble as a sophomore. Obviously at 6’1″, 215 pounds he doesn’t have ideal size for the MLB position but he makes up for it with impressive athleticism and burst. I’m not that impressed with his read and react skills or his instincts in coverage at this point, but he has the athleticism to be a good coverage linebacker if the mental side of his game can catch up with the physical side. I’m looking forward to seeing how Spruill looks as a junior this season.
Shamarko Thomas, SS- Overshadowed by Phillip Thomas and Chandler Jones last year, Thomas has always seemed to just fly under the radar when talking about draft eligible prospects. I really like how he acts almost like a human missile during games and puts everything he has into every game he plays. He’s a solid form tackler and isn’t afraid to lay the wood on an opponent. Thomas needs work in the coverage game, but being more of a SS type, Thomas will be more up against the line and playing in the box. He has a chance to make it early on as a special teams guy while developing his coverage skills, and when ready though Thomas could be a good starting caliber NFL SS.