Despite holding a young roster, the Syracuse prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft are numerous. As we’re set to embark on another year of Dino Babers’ tenure in upstate New York, all eyes will be directed towards a couple of standout players this season. Most notably, Sean Tucker on offense and Garrett Williams on defense.
Syracuse prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
Though Tucker and Williams garner most of the attention, this Syracuse roster is littered with talent. As we comb through their draft-eligible prospects, a few certain themes stand out. First, there’s size among their players. Second, there’s plenty of speed to go around.
Garrett Shrader, QB
Dual-threat by name, Garrett Shrader toted the rock 173 times a season ago. He totaled 14 rushing touchdowns and 781 yards but also proved to be more than competent in throwing the ball as well. The former Mississippi State transfer brings with him an incredible skill set with the ball in his hands on the ground, as that may be his future in the NFL.
Sean Tucker, RB
As I call him, Sean “Track Speed” Tucker may be one of the country’s best running backs. Whether it’s between the tackles, around the outside, or on the receiving end of passes, Tucker can do it all. There isn’t one element to his game that isn’t far above average. And there isn’t one element of his game that he doesn’t play his heart out.
Tucker is a dominant athlete and faster than most players on the field on any given Saturday. He’s the prototypical back for today’s NFL. He thrives on the receiving end of passes and has no trouble in Syracuse’s zone-blocking scheme of practicing patience before hitting the hole with ferocity.
Anthony Queeley, WR
A longtime member of the Orange, Anthony Queeley has great size and has quietly produced over the past two seasons. Drops have been an issue, however, so shoring up his hands is a big step in his development. Queeley has the size and speed to take that next step.
Damien Alford, WR
Size is Damien Alford’s biggest advantage on the outside. At 6’6″, he’s a mismatch for every cornerback he faces. He’s shown an ability to get open, and if he improves his hands at the catch point, Alford is a name that can rocket up draft boards.
Courtney Jackson, WR
Syracuse’s leading returning in every major receiving category, Courtney Jackson is back again to thrive over the middle of the field. Their threat on the inside, Jackson has become a first read for Shrader and the Syracuse offense. He gets open quickly off the line of scrimmage and produces well after the catch in space.
Matthew Bergeron, OT
Riding a 28-game starting streak, Matthew Bergeron is one of the most dependable linemen in the country. He’s also sound in all facets, to boot. Bergeron has great play strength and a solid base. He anchors well and can move very well laterally with great agility. The All-ACC honorable mention is set for a breakout year as one of the best tackles in the conference this season.
Carlos Vettorello, C
One of the most experienced players on the Syracuse roster, Carlos Vettorello has logged 31 starts and 33 games over the past three seasons. He slides back inside after starting games at both center and right tackle a season ago. A true road-grader, Vettorello is best on the move and in space, using his speed and athleticism to get in front of the back on the ground.
Christopher Bleich, G
A massive guard, Christopher Bleich stands 6’6″ and tips the scales at 335 pounds. He played both guard spots last season and played them well. After transferring from Florida, where he started eight games at right guard in 2019, he’s back to his natural position for the 2022 season. Strength is no issue for him, nor is anchoring, so if he can improve his footwork and balance this year, Bleich is a name to remember.
Dakota Davis, OT
It feels like Dakota Davis has been around as long as Dino Babers has at Syracuse. After missing time over the past two seasons, Davis is back for his sixth season with the Orange. With starts all across the offensive line, his versatility is unmatched on this unit. He has great size and great strength, and improving his health and lateral mobility will be key to his development.
Caleb Okechukwu, EDGE
There are a lot of edge-rushing snaps to replace for Syracuse this season following the departures of Kingsley Jonathan and Cody Roscoe. Caleb Okechukwu rushed in a complementary role a season ago with great success and could be in line for that breakout season. Okechukwu certainly has the size off the edge at 6’4″ and 269 pounds, and he’s flashed that ability to push tackles back at the snap to the tune of multiple QB pressures on just a handful of reps last year.
Steve Linton, EDGE
An incredibly long athlete off the edge, Steve Linton stands 6’5″ and tips the scales at just 217 pounds. That kind of frame allows him the ability to rush from a variety of positions and gives him the fortunate ability to hand fight from a distance before truly engaging. Linton should benefit from an increase in opportunity in 2022.
Mikel Jones, LB
One of the better all-around prospects returning to the ACC on defense this season is Mikel Jones. The do-it-all linebacker is at his best in coverage as he has the speed to stick with any pass catcher in his area, as well as the strength to match up with tight ends over the middle. Jones is a tackling machine who has near-perfect technique and a documented ability to get after the passer on blitzes with great success.
Marlowe Wax, LB
Similar to Jones, Marlowe Wax can do it all. Playing Syracuse’s “STAR” linebacker, Wax is comfortable both rushing the passer or dropping back to defend in coverage. He ripped off multiple quarterback pressures, including five sacks a season ago. Wax also came away with multiple forced incompletions in coverage as he proved to be able to do it all.
Garrett Williams, CB
The headliner on defense for Syracuse in 2022, Garrett Williams is one of the nation’s top cornerbacks this season. Williams is sticky in coverage, keeping everything within arm’s reach. Put on an island against some of the top receivers in the ACC, Williams has proven time and time again to be able to match up against the best of the best. Williams is long and has great closing burst, as indicated when he led the ACC in pass breakups in each of the past two seasons.
Andre Szmyt, K
Great from distance through his career, Andre Szmyt is back for his fifth year of handling the kicking duties for Syracuse. A lifetime 82.3% field-goal kicker, Szmyt is nearly automatic from within 40 yards. He also proved to be able to make big kicks at big times and has ample leg strength to kick on Sundays.