After months of speculation, Christian Hackenberg and the rest of the departing Penn State class now know where they are heading for the next step in their football careers. But among the five Nittany Lions who heard their names called during the draft, which one is best set up for longtime success in the NFL?
As much as I've gone through this in my head, I keep landing on one unexpected prospect- cornerback-turned-safety Jordan Lucas. Sure, Lucas wasn't selected until the sixth round by the Miami Dolphins, a spot where a roster spot is anything but guaranteed. But to me, Lucas is the total package when looking at prospective defensive backs at the next level, and his overall skillset should ensure a long and steady career in the NFL.
Lucas has outstanding coverage skills, so much so that teams often avoided his side of the field during the past three seasons. He has the speed that allowed him to keep pace and shut down the best receivers in the Big Ten. He has the versatility to be a factor throughout the secondary and fill in at the biggest position of need, as he has excelled at both cornerback and safety during his time at Penn State. Perhaps his most valuable trait is his ability to contribute in run-support. He's a tenacious and hard-hitting defender who won't hesitate to lay down a bone-crunching hit as he's been among the team's leading tacklers each season he's played in the blue and white. He also has the quickness and strength to be a valuable blitzer to help keep an opposing offense on their toes.
Lucas has the ability to be a valuable special teams ace to start his career in Miami while battling for playing time on defense. I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever to see him follow in the footsteps of former teammate Adrian Amos, who became a surprise week one starter at safety for the Chicago Bears as a rookie in 2015. Lucas has the ability to turn heads in training camp and find himself rocketing up the depth chart sometime in 2016 before settling in to a long and productive career in the NFL.
So what say you, BSD reader? Who do you expect to see as an NFL starter in 2028? Could it be Christian Hackenberg? Will Austin Johnson be blowing up offensive lines for the next decade? WIll Carl Nassib become Cleveland's sackmaster for years to come? Can Anthony Zettel become a hometown hero in Detroit? Or are you with me in thinking Lucas is the one Nittany Lion with the most longevity at the next level?