Former Syracuse football star Zaire Franklin is in a perfect situation in the pros. You can thank the New York Jets for making that happen on draft day.
It was a nerve wracking couple of days for former Syracuse football linebacker Zaire Franklin. After putting in four wonderful years on the hill at Syracuse, Zaire had earned the opportunity to potentially be drafted into the National Football League.
The last Syracuse football player to be drafted was special teams ace Riley Dixon back in 2016 (seventh round, 228th overall).
Franklin had a terrific pro day back in the spring and over a dozen NFL teams showed up to see him work out. Two teams in particular spent a lot of time with Franklin: the New York Jets and the Indianapolis Colts.
Who would’ve thought that these two teams would be instrumental in Zaire Franklin being drafted in April.
Let’s fast forward to day three of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Colts had made their last draft selection (seventh round, pick 221st overall, Matthew Adams a linebacker out of Houston). The Colts were packing up their offices ready to go meet with the media to talk about their day three haul and then the phone rang.
The Jets were interested in veteran defensive lineman Henry Anderson. Here’s the skinny, Anderson is naturally a 3-4 defensive lineman, but new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus runs a 4-3 system.
The Colts didn’t plan on dumping Anderson, in fact Henry was already cutting weight for his new role. But when the Jets called, the Colts thought it’d be a perfect scenario to select a player from Syracuse they had great interest in, while at the same time sending a player away who didn’t fit the schematics.
When Anderson got traded and was suddenly shifted back to a 3-4 defense, he had to regain 20-30 pounds, to learn more about how he did that Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com detailed it here.
So the Jets get their man and through five games so far this season Henry Anderson has far exceeded expectations and perhaps has been the team’s best defensive lineman.
While the Colts got an offer they couldn’t refuse, Zaire Franklin with the 235th overall pick in the seventh round (previously owned by the Jets).
Boy Green spoke with Indianapolis Colts writer Jake Arthur about the upcoming matchup between the Jets and Colts and talked more indepth about how special Zaire Franklin has been with the blue and white on the latest episode of The Jets Zone:
So to reiterate, the Colts draft was over. They were not going to pick Zaire Franklin, they didn’t have any picks left. Then the Jets called and gave them their final draft choice in exchange for Henry Anderson.
But here’s the thing, seventh round picks are guaranteed nothing. Franklin earned his opportunities with the Colts and he took advantage of them. NFL teams get 90 man rosters at the start of training camp and Franklin was battling with 11 other linebackers to make the roster and he not only made the team, but he has earned starting playing time on the Colts this year.
Obviously there’s a special connection between Syracuse University and the Indianapolis Colts:
- John Mackey
- Arguably the greatest tight end in football history is from none other than Syracuse University and was a Colts great.
- Marvin Harrison
- A Pro Football Hall of Famer as well and Colts legend. Harrison spent his entire career with the blue and white.
- Dwight Freeney
- Talk about an epic mount rushmore with three Syracuse and Colts legends. Freeney was the last piece of relevance for the Syracuse football team back in 2001. That was the last time the Orange were ranked in the top-25 as well.
- Arthur Jones
- Now we enter a different tier of Syracuse football lore, not quite legends, but players who made an impact at the next level.
- Delone Carter
- Didn’t get to stick around very long with Colts but had an excellent career with Syracuse.
- Shamarko Thomas
- A cup of coffee with Indianapolis, but another well respected member of the Orange.
- Steve Ishmael
- Currently on the practice squad and we’ll see how he develops. Also he’s the new all time yardage leader at Syracuse.
- Zaire Franklin
- To be determined. But I said it prior to him being drafted and it has been confirmed with how well he’s performed at the next level, Franklin will be in the NFL for the next decade. Hopefully that can be spent with the Colts, so proud of what this guy has accomplished thus far and looking forward to his bright future.