|Noah K. Murray / The Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports|
|Sean Hickey nearly left Syracuse last season, but returned to boost his NFL credentials.|
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Syracuse offensive tackle Sean Hickey is a management major, and he says he doesn't like to make decisions off raw emotion.
When it comes to making decisions, Hickey said Sunday at the ACC Kickoff media event, he considers himself "cool and calculating."
That's why he is back at Syracuse for his senior season. And that's why he potentially could sneak into the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Hickey (6-foot-5, 303 pounds) considered turning pro after last season, but received a third- to fifth-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. "If I would've been a second to third, you probably wouldn't be talking to me today," he joked Sunday.
What appealed to Hickey about the negative feedback he received from the advisory board is that "everything was fixable."
As an example, Hickey said he played at 293 pounds last season and has been as light as 285. He said he was told he needed to get above 300, and he has done so while also lowering his body fat.
"I could be an effective college player at 285 pounds," he said. "But I could never be an effective NFL player at that weight."
In addition, Hickey always has had a strong upper body -- he benches 515 pounds and has completed 41 reps at 225 pounds -- but said he was told he needed to strengthen his lower body. He had done that, too, pointing out that he went through "12 months of not developing" when he had to miss the 2011 season because of a torn ACL. (As for the 41 reps at 225 pounds, only one player did as many reps at this year's NFL Scouting Combine: Cincinnati Bengals fourth-round pick Russell Bodine, a center from North Carolina, did 42.)
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Hickey knows his "fixes" might not lead to a first- or second-round selection, but that's what he is aiming for. "You shoot for a first-round pick; I'm not shooting to be a third-round draft pick," he said.
Hickey has a chance to be one of the top five senior tackles this season, but where he falls overall obviously will depend on any underclass tackles who declare. Hickey said he understands that position rankings fluctuate yearly, pointing out that the No. 7 offensive tackle in 2015 could go earlier in the draft than, say, the No. 7 offensive tackle in 2013.
Hickey started all 13 games as a sophomore right tackle in 2012. He switched to left tackle last season to replace Justin Pugh, who was taken by the New York Giants in the first round after he left following his junior season. Hickey said he remains in touch with Pugh, and Hickey obviously wouldn't mind some team making a cool and calculated decision and grabbing him in the first round, as well.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.