Syracuse University offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 38th overall pick in the second round of the NFL Draft as the first of two SU players chosen Friday night.
Syracuse cornerback Garrett Williams was later selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the 72nd overall pick in the third round.
Bergeron became the highest player selected from the Orange since Justin Pugh was drafted in the first round in 2013.
The 6-foot-5, 318-pound offensive tackle from Victoriaville, Quebec, figures to compete for a rotational role initially and could begin as a guard, which was the position announced when the pick was revealed.
The Falcons surrendered a fourth-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts to trade up six spots for Bergeron, likely targeting his versatility for the upcoming season combined with his long-term starting potential.
Bergeron — a two-time All-ACC honoree — started 39 games at offensive tackle over his four-year SU career.
He was graded as the No. 4 overall offensive lineman in the FBS by Pro Football Focus College this past season, allowing just five sacks and accruing only three penalties in 686 snaps at left tackle.
Bergeron was touted mostly for his run-blocking by draft analysts. Atlanta selected star Texas running back Bijan Robinson with the No. 8 overall pick in the first round Thursday and was one of only three NFL teams with a rushing play percentage above 50 last season.
Bergeron was a team captain for SU this past year and the recipient of the Ben Schwartzwalder Award, presented annually to an exemplary player with leadership skills that “exemplifies the hard-nosed approach of the program.”
He was invited to the Senior Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine, and was rated as a top-10 offensive tackle on the board of most draft experts. He was forecasted as a second-round pick by NFL Mock Draft Database and appeared in the late first round of some mock drafts.
Williams — the 5-foot-10, 192-pound lockdown defensive back from Harrisburg, N.C. — projects as a long-term starter outside with the potential to play nickel-corner or safety.
He was unable to test at the NFL Scouting Combine or the SU Pro Day while recovering from a torn ACL suffered last October but stated throughout the process that he anticipates being cleared in time for training camps this summer.
Williams remained a fixture of top-100 lists by draft analysts despite the injury.
He was an instant producer at SU, garnering Freshman All-American honors and three All-ACC selections, and was a team captain for the 2022 season.
The shutdown CB led the ACC in pass breakups in 2020 and 2021, and his 23 career PBUs are the eighth-most in SU history. He finished with 152 career tackles, including 9.5 for loss, to go with four interceptions, two sacks, and 27 passes defended.
The NFL Draft will conclude with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday with SU running back Sean Tucker and possibly linebacker Mikel Jones potentially in line to be selected.
Giants pick corner Banks
The New York Giants took Maryland cornerback with the 24th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night after trading up one spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Giants sent the 160th and 240th overall picks to the Jaguars to move up from the 25th pick.
After a season in which they exceeded expectations by winning a playoff game, the Giants came into the draft with a few roster holes. Among the more pressing needs: more receiving targets for newly extended quarterback Daniel Jones, reinforcements in the secondary and help in the interior offensive line.
Banks has good size (6-foot, 197 pounds), speed (4.35-second 40 at the Combine) and explosiveness (11-4 broad jump, 42-inch vertical) for an outside cornerback. He had two interceptions and 11 passes defensed in 28 games at Maryland.
Carolina’s Young: ‘ This is surreal’
It was almost as if Friday’s arrival of Bryce Young — the Panthers’ new quarterback and first overall selection — brought a bit of sunshine back to Charlotte following a rainy Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.
Dressed in a light blue suit and a Panthers hat, Young strolled through a red carpet-like atmosphere as he arrived at the North Gate of the stadium. Hundreds of fans surrounded Young as he made his way to the entrance of the stadium and pounded a drum to draw a “Keep Pounding” chant from the Carolina faithful in attendance.
From there, team owner David Tepper and his wife, Nicole, took Young and his parents, Julie and Craig, on their first official tour of the Panthers’ facility. Eventually, Young met with the Charlotte media.
“This is surreal for me,” Young said. “This is an opportunity that I don’t take lightly, I don’t take for granted. And this is a huge blessing. ... I couldn’t be more ecstatic to be a Carolina Panther, and I’m ready to get to work.”
Young, who stands 5-foot-10 and 204 pounds, has often dealt with size critique due to his lack of a prototypical frame. Some analysts have labeled him as a size outlier. But those criticisms didn’t seem to bother the Panthers.
Craig Young, who coached Bryce as a child, said the size narratives are “lazy.” Bryce Young, though, took the high road when asked about the advantages of his short stature.
“I only know one way how to play the quarterback position,” the former University of Alabama quarterback said. “I’ve been this size, relative to everyone around me, so I don’t really look at it as an advantage or disadvantage. I think I would have to know another perspective to know that. For me, I try my best to focus on myself and be the best version of myself, day in and day out. ... I know that size is something everybody wants to talk about, but I’ve never thought about it.”
Young will now enter a quarterback room with a trio of longtime NFL signal-callers leading the charge.
Head coach Frank Reich, quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and veteran passer Andy Dalton all played more than a decade in the league. Dalton, who is currently No. 1 on the quarterback depth chart, has thrown for 38,150 yards and 244 touchdowns.
Bryce acknowledged that he is looking forward to learning from the group.
“Being a young guy in this league, I’ve never taken a snap, and I’m going to be around so many people who have had so much success and been around so many great quarterbacks,” Young said. “From them and from other people they’ve been around -- it’s such a wealth of knowledge. And I’m going to try to be a sponge and soak it all in.”
Times wire services contributed to this report.
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