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|FLEX (W/R/T)||Aaron Harris|
There were three players who I assumed would be off the board by the time I made my first pick at fifth overall — Saquon Barkley, Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter. Much to my delight, Carter was still available and I did not hesitate to take the uber-superstar and first overall NFL Draft choice.
Get used to plenty of this:
Initially, I had my sights on Paul Posluszny with my first pick. Who else to lead the defense than the two-time Bendarik Award winner and easily one of my all-time favorite Nittany Lions? But the thought of Carter racing past defenders was way too enticing.
However, imagine my surprise when Poz was somehow still available in the second round. I wanted to pull the trigger, yet had to make a tough decision — I could pass on Poz and still put together a stellar trio of linebackers, but it would be tough to build respectable offensive line had a waited any longer. I went with one of the all-time great offensive lineman to wear the blue and white, and snatched two-time first-team All-American Jeff Hartings. We’ll party like it’s 1994 as Hartings creates massive holes for Carter to race through untouched to the end zone. With Hartings leading the way, a supporting cast of Gerald Cadogen, Joe Iorio, Dennis Landolt and E.Z. Smith won’t hold this offense back.
The move turned out well, as I ended with the best overall linebacker group in my humble opinion. Dan Conner, 2007 Bendarik Award winner as the nation’s best defensive player and all-time program leader in tackles, leads the way. Flanking him are two athletic tackling machines who also had a penchant for the big play in Gerald Hodges and Brandon Bell.
A nice reminder that Gerald Hodges was EVERYWHERE:
I’ll also take my collection of pass catchers ahead of anyone else in this draft. Chris Godwin is a big-play threat who could do it all, and always came up big when needed. He’s the type of receiver you could just throw it up to when all else fails and expect good things to happen. Complimenting him is Jordan Norwood, someone who always knew how to get open, with the hands to catch everything that came his direction.
I also took Kyle Brady as the first tight end off the board. There’s only so many times you can pass a first-team All-American and #9 overall draft pick. With those three on my team, I was able to use my flex to pick up another running back to go along with Carter- human pinball Aaron Harris, who made a habit out of running straight through would-be tacklers during his time in Happy Valley.
I’m particularly excited about the athleticism throughout the defensive line, which could give any offensive line fits while becoming more disruptive as the game stretches on. Carl Nassib was a consensus All-American for racking up 15.5 sacks despite missing the final four games of his senior season. Devon Still was a majorly disruptive tackle who knew how to end plays in the backfield before they could get going. Next to him is Kevin Givens, another disruptive force who knew how to get into the backfield. Givens always put up big numbers when offenses focused on others around him - in this lineup, Givens would live in the backfield. Finally, Terry Killens had a motor that will certainly make teams pay for putting too much focus on slowing down Nassib and Still.
Find an offensive interior line that can handle this:
The secondary may lack the All-American star power of other position groups, but is sneaky-good and effective group. Jordan Lucas and D’Anton Lynn never received their proper due in Happy Valley, largely because they quietly did their jobs and had quarterbacks looking to throw elsewhere. They rarely gave up much when challenged, and held their own against the best receivers in the Big Ten. Marcus Allen and Anthony Scirrotto would be an absolute force in run support, while making receivers think twice about crossing the middle of the field. Both could make a habit out of separating the ball from would-be receivers, while Scirrotto especially would benefit from snagging the occasional forced throw caused by the magnificent front seven ahead of them.
I also took the first kicker/punter off the board to nab Brett Conway, the best kicker for Penn State’s Big Ten era and another star of the ‘94 squad. Conway was as clutch as they come with a big leg, so much so that the Packers took him in the third (!!!!) round.
One position I ultimately waited on was quarterback. It wasn’t intentional, but once Kerry Collins, Michael Robinson, Daryl Clark and Trace McSorely were off the board, I decided to hold off since I could still get a reliable signal-caller at the end of the draft. That ended up being Wally Richardson, a standout during the ‘95 and ‘96 seasons that never received his due after following the footsteps of Kerry Collins and that historically productive ‘94 offense. Richardson was a model of consistency, and would be someone you could rely on to get the most of of his ridiculous set of weapons in Ki-Jana Carter, Chris Godwin, Jordan Norwood and Kyle Brady.
Overall, the offense has a bounty of weapons that can’t all be stopped. The defense is loaded with speed and hits like a ton of bricks. And should any of these games come down the wire, Brett Conway would have no problem drilling a game-winner as the clock ticks away.
What say you?