The 2016 NFL Draft is officially in the books, and all things considered, the former Penn State Nittany Lions did pretty well for themselves. There weren't any major surprises as far as when they were chosen, and on first glance, it seems as if they all have fallen into pretty favorable situations for their future. Let's take a closer look.
* * *
Austin Johnson - Tennessee Titans
Pick No. 43 (Round 2, Pick 12)
Notes: The first Penn Stater off the board was the monstrous defensive tackle. Austin Johnson. Johnson will now head to join a Titans defensive line that also includes former Nittany Lion, DaQuan Jones. It sounds as if the plan is to have Johnson grow into the nose tackle role, and either push current starter Al Woods, or overtake him completely if he can. Johnson will need to continue to grow bigger and stronger to fill that position to the best of his ability, but even if he stepped in right now, he would probably do a fine job. Playing next to the aforementioned Jones should be a nice comfort for Johnson, even if the two weren't starters at the same time while at Penn State. Also, Johnson was chosen before both Alabama defensive tackles, so score one for Penn State there.
Christian Hackenberg - New York Jets
Pick No. 51 (Round 2, Pick 20)
Notes: While it's certainly not the place that most Penn State fans wanted him to end up (the non-Jets faction of Penn State fans, at least), there are far worse situations for Hackenberg to have landed in. The Jets have already announced their intentions of allowing Christian to spend a year on the bench in order to help him prepare his game for the NFL. They will likely resign the reliable, albeit unspectacular, Ryan Fitzpatrick to hold down the fort for however long may be needed. They have a very good offensive line, and a solid foundation of skill players. When it's time for Hack to step in, he will have plenty of things working in his favor (even if the New York media is never one of them).
Carl Nassib - Cleveland Browns
Pick No. 65 (Round 3, Pick 2)
Notes: How well Nassib fits here is going to be entirely dependent on how the Browns actually end up using him. While a member of the Browns front office was being interviewed during the final day of the draft on ESPN, he said that the plan was to move Nassib inside to defensive tackle, and that they envisioned him as a future three-down player. Nassib certainly has the height to be a dominating inside presence, but everything else about him points to sack artist. Which, well, that's what he did best in college, Cleveland. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Nassib could put on enough weight to become a Geno Atkins-type pass rusher from the middle of the line, but why mess with what works? Not to mention that Nassib was a far better pass rusher than run defender. Overall, it seems like the Browns are over-thinking this one, and trying to get too cute. Hopefully they realize that he fits best as an edge rusher, and let him terrorize quarterbacks from there, rather than just hoping he can become a tackle.
Anthony Zettel - Detroit Lions
Pick No. 202 (Round 6, Pick 27)
Notes: Getting Zettel this late was a steal for the Lions, even if he was going to be a steal regardless of who picked him. The biggest knock against Zettel is the fact that he doesn't really have a true position in the NFL just yet. He could be a pass rushing specialist from the defensive tackle spot on third down, or he could try and bump back outside to defensive end, where he started his Penn State career. It sounds like the Lions are going to try the latter of those two options, which is probably the right call. It Zettel can remember what made him so successful as a rotational end during his first two years at Penn State, the Lions just potentially found a stud to put on their line. Not to mention that while his run stuffing would probably grade out as average to below average for an NFL defensive tackle, it likely grades out as better than average as a defensive end. All in all, it seems like a great fit for a team that is still trying to recover some of the defensive line dominance they had when Ndamukong Suh was in town.
Jordan Lucas - Miami Dolphins
Pick No. 204 (Round 6, Pick 29)
Notes: Finally, we come to Jordan Lucas, the do-it-all defensive back that Penn State leaned so heavily on over the past two seasons, both as a corner and a safety. Reportedly, the Dolphins plan to use him as a cornerback, which is where most teams were planning on using him. It's probably the right decision, because while he was a very good safety, he was an excellent collegiate corner. He will likely start as a special teamer, but absolutely has the talent to become a nickel corner and possibly be a backup option for every position in the secondary. The versatility is what makes him such an attractive player, and it's what could lead him to having the longest NFL career out of all the newly-drafted Nittany Lions.