With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, we here at Black Shoe Diaries are about to dive deep into our coverage of our beloved Nittany Lions who soon be gracing some lucky NFL rosters. Today we look at former Penn State defensive tackles in the NFL.
Jared Odrick - 2010 NFL Draft
Penn State Career - Odrick came in as a highly touted recruit, the #6 ranked DT in the country, and he certainly lived up to expectations during his time in Happy Valley. First earning the starting job in 2007, Odrick improved year by year at PSU both statistically and in on-field ability; he went from 4 TFL in 2007 to 9.5 in 2008 and then 11 in 2009. Furthermore, he went from having 2 sacks to 4 sacks to 7 sacks. For his performance his senior year, Odrick took home Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Honors. He also saw a considerable rise in his draft stock.
Draft Outlook - Odrick was a hot name on the NFL Draft circuit in 2010. NFL front offices took notice of his growing ability, and he was perceived one of the best defensive lineman available in the draft. Here's some of the most notable NFL Draft evaluators of the internet at had to say about him way back in 2010...
Walterfootball: DT #4, Top 25 Pick. Notes that he believes he should go in the 1st round, but an arrest in the pre-draft process may push him back.
CBSSports.com: DT #4, #27 overall player.
NFL.com: No grade given. Praised his versatility and production while describing some concerns of his agility.
DraftCountdown: #4 DT. No detail given.
Ultimately, Jared Odrick was drafted with the #28 pick by the Miami Dolphins, making him the 5th DT of the board. As he was drafted by a team operating the 3-4 defense, Odrick was subsequently moved to defensive end to better fit his skill set. Odrick had a fine couple of years with Miami, definitely worth the selection for Miami, but the best may be yet to come. Now signed (for big money) with the Jacksonville Jaguars and still only 27, he is a terrific fit in Gus Bradley's defense. The future is bright for the Lebanon, PA native and he should be a key part of the young Jaguars D in 2015.
Devon Still - 2012 NFL Draft
Penn State Career - Much like Odrick before him, Still also had a highly productive PSU career. Also like Odrick, Still's best year came in his final year, where he really showed off his potential. Finishing with 17 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in his final year, Still finished as the B1G Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a first-team All-Conference player.
Draft Outlook - At 6'5", 303 lbs, Still had the size that most NFL teams look for an interior defensive lineman. With his size, athleticism and production in college, Still figured to be an early round pick.
Matt Miller: #6 DT, his #41 overall player. Lists him as 3-4 DE.
Mike Mayock: #5 DT, his #42 overall player.
WalterFootball: #4 DT, 1st Round Pick. Compliments his athleticism displayed an the combine.
Scout.com: #6 DT, 1st Round Pick.
So it seemed as though Still's range was late 1st to early 2nd, again, like Odrick. However, he fell a bit.
Still was the 53rd overall pick of the draft by the Bengals in 2012. To date, he's flashed some potential but has yet to really have a ton of success at the highest level. He's still young and under his first contract, so he still has time to live up to expectations. No slight to anyone else we're talking about here, but we are rooting for Still's success more than anyone else, for obvious reasons.
Jordan Hill - 2013 NFL Draft
Penn State Career - The next link in the chain of productive PSU DTs, Jordan Hill had two very successful seasons with the Nittany Lions. Though a bit less established than the other two, Hill is held in high regard in this Penn Stater's memory. Hill left Penn State with less acclaim than Odrick and Still, but he looked like he had a successful NFL future ahead of him nonetheless.
Matt Miller: #11 DT, #148 overall player.
NFL.com: Not Top 10 DT, nor listed in top 150.
SBN (MTD): #11 DT.
So, as clearly shown by the rankings given, Hill was more of a mid-round type player than an early round one, as his counterparts were.
NFL Career - Hill was indeed chosen in the middle rounds of the draft, but he went to a great place to showcase his skills. He went to the Seattle Seahawks, who have made habit out of putting guys in ideal situations to best use their abilities. As Polak said in his All-PSU NFL Dream Team thing, "Jordan Hill was quickly becoming one of Seattle's two or three best defensive linemen (which is saying something), before going down with injury. He'll be back this season, and should continue to develop into one of the most promising pass-rushing tackle options in the entire league."
So, yeah. The future looks pretty bright for young Jordan Hill.
DaQuan Jones - 2014 NFL Draft
Penn State Career - Another year, another great PSU defensive tackle. Jones was a favorite player of mine during his time here. His 2014 game against Michigan is still a masterpiece, and was one of the best individual defensive performances of that year. Much like Hill, he didn't really get the national recognition he deserved, but he was a fantastic player during his time here. Oh, and we appreciate him staying during a time when he could have left.
Draft Outlook - For this one I'll just speak personally. In my opinion, I thought DaQuan Jones was right up at the cream-of-the-crop of the defensive tackles in the draft. He was a darling of the draft community when they finally got around to watching him, and a lot of people liked him after that first run of guys like Aaron Donald, Timmy Jernigan, Louis Nix, etc...he was a #DraftTwitter favorite, if you will. Personally, I'd have taken him in the 2nd, but to be fair I was the highest on him out of everyone. Regardless, the NFL thought he was a mid rounder, just like they did Hill.
NFL Career - He's barely started. He only played in 7 games last year, but I'm told he looked pretty decent when he did see action. He'll be playing 3-4 DE in Dick LeBeau's defense. I have high expectations for him, and I hope he's in the plans of current Titans' defensive coordinator Ray Horton.