Orange Watch: Time for a new NFL Draft streak for Syracuse football

Zaire Franklin
Central Michigan Chippewas wide receiver Mark Chapman (3) runs with the ball after a catch as Syracuse Orange linebacker Zaire Franklin (4) leaps over teammate Jonathan Thomas (23) during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Item: Let’s look at linebacker Zaire Franklin being drafted in the seventh round by the Indianapolis Colts this past weekend as not only the end of the dearth of Orange players being selected over the last four years (two total), but also the beginning of a long streak in which there is at least one ex-Syracuse player drafted each year.

Wasn’t it depressing after the first six rounds of the NFL Draft to see players chosen from schools such as Texas San Antonio, Fort Hayes State, Weber State, and Stephen F. Austin, while no player from Syracuse had yet to be announced?

With no disrespect intended to those football programs, they simply don’t have the brand, winning tradition, and a national championship in their history as compared to SU’s 1295 games played, and sitting 31st on the all-time list of most wins in NCAA Div. I history.

» Related: How does three divide into six for the Syracuse football team?

Now that Franklin has joined new New York Giants punter Riley Dixon as the two ex-Orange players to be chosen in the last four NFL drafts, with the continued upswing in recruiting ACC-level talent to the program by Dino Babers and staff, it not’s likely that there will be too many seasons in the near future in which Syracuse gets shut out.

“I think he’s (Franklin) the first three-time captain in about 130 years at Syracuse. Outstanding leadership traits,” Colts New York State-based area scout Mike Derice told the Indianapolis Star about what impressed him and new Colts head coach Frank Reich in evaluating Franklin.

“They talk about grit, this guy has it,” Derice added. “From the standpoint of he was raised by mom and grandma and they both passed away, so, he was self-sufficient growing up. Those are the traits I like. He’s been productive as a linebacker; he’s tough, instinctive, just has the right makeup.”

Taking a very early look at the 2019 Orange NFL prospects, with quarterback Eric Dungey and defensive lineman Chris Slayton finishing up their careers among the 12 seniors on the spring two-deep roster, it figures that a new streak is going to be established of Syracuse players being draft-worthy on an annual basis.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 505 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.