It's been some time since Penn State has had a player drafted in the first round. In fact, one would need to go all the way back to 2010, when Jared Odrick was selected by the Miami Dolphins at the bottom of round one. Since then, they've had three second round picks (Stefan Wisniewski, Devon Still, Allen Robinson), but have remained outside of the first round. Could 2016 finally be the year that a Nittany Lion is chosen as a team's first selection?
Here is the list of players expected to be considered to be drafted:
Christian Hackenberg, QB
Austin Johnson, DT
Anthony Zettel, DT/DE
Carl Nassib, DE
Tarow Barney, DT
Kyle Carter, TE
Jordan Lucas, S/CB
Trevor Williams, CB
It's not a terribly deep list, but there is some big time talent in there.
Christian Hackenberg will be one of the more interesting draft prospects in some time, after enduring rough sophomore and junior campaigns while playing in a system that didn't truly suit his skill-set. Everyone also still remembers his true freshman season under Bill O'Brien, however. The NFL is always willing to take a chance on a quarterback with a huge arm and good size, which is exactly what Hack has. He's surely going to test very well, and will likely rock his individual interviews. Considering the fact that this is a weaker-than-expected quarterback class, it's not too hard to imagine a team grabbing Christian in the first round. Especially when you consider that the Houston Texans qualified for the playoffs, and will pick towards the bottom of the round.
Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel both had first-round-worthy talent, now it's just a matter of if a team feels they need to jump to grab them that early. Defensive tackle is arguably the deepest position in the draft, so plenty of teams will be willing to wait for the second and third rounds to get their guy. Johnson's motor and ability to take on double-teams will surely be coveted by NFL scouts, and while Zettel is likely a defensive end at the next level, his versatility and ability to penetrate the backfield are big-time skills.
Finally, there's the curious case of Carl Nassib. The NCAA leader in sacks and forced fumbles, despite missing two games, hasn't been found much higher than seventh or eighth on any lists of draft-eligible defensive ends. It's possible that some teams are scared of the fact that he played with two outstanding defensive tackles, and that he only put up these numbers in one season, but there have been players drafted in the first round thanks to big senior seasons that were far less prolific than Carl's. When all is said and done, he should be under first round consideration, but then again, NFL teams aren't always the most intelligent when it comes to recognizing college talent.
So what do you think? Where will Penn State's draft-eligible players be drafted? Will any of them crack the first round? Who will, and why?