I will preface all of this by saying I was born in 1992 so there are some players here I am too young to remember watching. So, for those players it is based on what I have read, have been told by family/BSD cohorts, and dads of friends of mine.
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|FLEX (W/R/T)||Saeed Blacknall|
With the second overall pick in the draft the choice was a no brainer. Entering the draft the two guys, and by a lot, on my draft board were Saquon Barkley and LaVar Arrington. With Saquon off the board, anyone other than LaVar would have been the wrong pick.
My second pick was Derrick Williams. Prior to breaking his arm, Williams was on his way to becoming one of the best play makers in the country. When healthy, Williams was as electric as any offensive skill player not named Barkley I have ever watched play for Penn State.
Joining Williams at wide receiver is Freddie Scott. While Scott is a player that was before my time, I know he was a reliable receiver that will complement the explosiveness of Williams well.
Mike Gesicki was the top tight end on my board just barely edging out Kyle Brady and Pat Freiermuth. Having him to be a red zone target and to terrorize defenses on crossing routes and deep balls will be a big boost for the offense.
One of my final draft picks was Journey Brown at running back. Last season Journey started to emerge as an explosive play maker and one of the best running backs in the Big Ten. He will pair with Williams to give my offense a pair of home run hitters.
At my flex spot we find Saeed Blacknall. Blacknall was my final draft pick. While Blacknall struggled to find consistency in his career, he always came through in big moments. His touchdown catch while getting held against Ohio State in 2014, going off in the 2016 Big Ten Championship Game, and hauling in a slant on 4th down against Iowa in 2017 to keep the game winning drive alive all come to mind. If nothing else, Blacknall will provide a big play or two in the clutch.
The trigger man for the offense is Daryll Clark. Clark was drafted in the 4th round and was taken a little higher than he may have been valued at. That said, during the Big Ten Era there are four quarterbacks that standout above the rest for Penn State. After these four, there is a big drop off. Clark was the only one of these four still on the board, so I felt the need to pounce. Clark also gives the offense a dual threat quarterback which is a must in offensive coordinator Marty’s playbook.
My offensive line is one of my favorite units on this team. Andre Johnson was an All-American in college, while Keith Conlan and Eric Cole both earned All-Big Ten honors. Conlan, of course, was also a member of the vaunted 1994 offensive line that was the best in the country and probably the best in program history. Throw in Brendan Mahon’s positional flexibility and Ty Howle at center, and this line is ready to maul people.
The pass rush is another part of the team that would be a handful for opposing teams. In addition to LaVar blitzing, opposing offensive tackles have to deal with Deion Barnes and Garrett Sickels, both of whom were great pass rushers in college.
At defensive tackle, Austin Johnson will also be able to add to the pass rush. Johnson will also demand double teams and help to stuff the run game. Joining Johnson is one of my favorite Penn State players ever - Ollie Ogbu. Both due to his ability to help clog up the middle and his place on the all-name team, Ogbu is a welcome addition to the squad.
Joining LaVar at linebacker are Aaron Collins and Jason Cabinda. While Cabinda has his athletic shortcomings, he is a great quarterback for the defense and has a nose for the ball. As for Collins, he is another player I am not old enough to remember watching play, but I know he was an all-conference performer in Happy Valley. Collins also was a good coverage linebacker, which is something my team was otherwise lacking.
A big reason I wanted to assemble a strong pass rush is because my secondary is... well, a lot like the 2019 secondary. The cornerback play should be strong, but safety could be a real issue.
Justin King was one of the top cornerbacks on my board and one of my best value picks. John Reid is a tremendous man-to-man corner, but can get lost in zone at times. Lamont Wade has all the athletic and physical tools at safety, but he certainly had his struggles at time last year. Joining him in the back end is Nick Sukay. While I’m not sure Sukay’s style of play would transition well to the modern college game, it was very slim pickings and I do remember him being a bit of a ball hawk during his Nittany Lion career and being good for two or three interceptions per season. Also, let’s be honest, is it really a Penn State secondary without a white safety?
Kicker/punter is one of my favorite draft picks. A strong argument can be made that Jordan Stout was the best player on the board at this spot and will lead a strong special teams unit. He’ll nail 50+ yard field goals, routinely get touch backs on kick offs, and will be one of the best punters in the country as well. Penn State fans can not thank Justin Fuente enough for somehow not having a scholarship to give to Stout.
Overall, I am very happy with this roster. While the pass coverage may not be the best, the pass rush should help with that. Offensively, MG will provide Clark with a great red zone target. Clark and Brown both should be able to run for days behind this offensive line.
Ultimately, games are won in the trenches. Two of my favorite positions on this team are the offensive and defensive lines. So, that instills confidence in me.