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Penn State Fantasy Draft Breakdown: Clay

Speed in space and a relentless defense should give me a chance against anybody.

Penn State Nittany Lions v Northwestern Wildcats Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Of course, as the originator of the draft idea and the one who set it up, I somehow ended up with the last pick in the snake draft. While having back to back picks was nice, it made waiting 14 more picks until I was up again excruciating. The result, however, is a team with a ton of speed and skill on offense and a defense that gets after the quarterback at an alarming rate.

(*Must view table in reader mode on mobile device)

Clay’s Team

QB Michael Robinson
QB Michael Robinson
RB Miles Sanders
WR Bryant Johnson
WR Tony Johnson
TE Isaac Smolko
FLEX (W/R/T) Eric McCoo
OL Floyd Wedderburn
OL Johnnie Troutman
OL Mike Miranda
OL Ryan Bates
OL Rasheed Walker
DE Tamba Hali
DT Spice Adams
DT Scott Paxson
DE Yetur Gross-Matos
LB Nyeem Wartman
LB Brandon Short
LB Justin Kurpeikis
CB Anwar Phillips
CB Steph Morris
S Adrian Amos
S Stephen Obeng-Agyapong
K/P Jeremy Boone

Quarterback: When I came up on the clock at pick No. 8 both of my top-tier quarterbacks were off the board, with Collins going early in the first round and Dylan taking Trace McSorley the pick before. I knew I had back to back picks and while I was mostly thinking BPA, I also had an idea of how I wanted to start building my team. With my first overall pick, I went defense, which we’ll talk about later on. I then took MRob at No. 9 overall. Michael Robinson quite literally kept this program afloat in 2005 and that was while playing in an offense that wasn’t completely suited to him. Put him in a 2020 spread run offense a la Urban Meyer at OSU and Florida and he might have 4,000 total yards on the season.

Running Back: I doubled up here and absolutely love both my picks. The first was Miles Sanders, whose lone season as a starter is overlooked a bit because he followed one of the best to ever do it and Penn State’s 2018 season was largely underwhelming. But he came in as a five-star and often showed why, including an incredible performance against Illinois with 200 yards and three touchdowns. He’s continued to show off that talent now that he’s in the NFL. Also lining up in the backfield is Eric McCoo. McCoo gets lost in the shuffle a bit thanks to Larry Johnson, but he’s in the top-10 all-time in rushing yards for PSU and was just a phenomenal athlete. McCoo was a touchdown threat whenever he got the ball and was a solid receiver as well. Putting him next to Robinson and Sanders in a backfield will cause defenses nightmares.

Wide Receiver: Do people remember how good Bryant Johnson was? Particularly in 2002? Johnson had an absurd career at Penn State playing with Zack Mills of all peole as his quarterback. His play led him to a first round pick in the 2003 draft. The man could absolute do it all. He was big, physical, fast, a good route-runner, a deep threat, a red zone threat. While MRob played with good wideouts in his time, Johnson would be by far the best wide receiver threat that he had. Across from him I stuck with the theme, going with Tony Johnson in the later rounds. By now most of the wide receivers on my board were gone and the decision came down to Tony Johnson or Jahan Dotson. While I think Dotson may finish with the better career, Johnson has the more impressive resume to this point and was a dangerous weapon in his own right opposite his brother.

Tight End: I’ll admit, I probably waited a tinge too long at tight end, but in my offense I don’t plan on the tight end being too much of a focal point. Jared took Quarless before I was able to snatch him up, but honestly I just need someone who can block and then run down the seam on play action, I’m confident he can do both of those things well enough to function.

Offensive Line: Where’s the beef? On my offensive line, that’s where. I feel I’ve got a great balance here of maulers and pass protectors who will thrive in my downhill run game. On the left side, we’ve got an absolute man mountain in Floyd Wedderburn protecting the blindside and getting downhill on run plays. Next to him is three-year start Johnnie Troutman, who started for three seasons and did not commit a penalty or allow a sack as a senior in 2011. Making the calls in the middle we’ve got Mike Miranda. Miranda has yet to play center for PSU, but spent time there at spring ball last year and will almost certainty be the heir apparent to Michal Menet when he graduates. Over on the right, we move Ryan Bates back inside to right guard, where he was one of the more dependable lineman for James Franklin, and then we swing Rasheed Walker, who I felt was fantastic at left tackle as freshman, over to the right side where he can be a bit more aggressive with his punch and really get after it in the run game.

Defensive Line: My defense is the pride and joy of my team, and it starts up front with what I think is the best defensive line unit in the draft. Tamba Hali was my first pick at No. 8 overall. I knew there would be some high-powered offenses I’m playing again, my goal is to tell my defensive ends to pin their ears back and sic ‘em, while the defensive tackles and backers handle the run. Opposite Hali we have another stud in Yetur Gross-Matos on the strong side. Not only can YGM get after the passers, but he can set an edge as well. Inside we’ve got a nice combo, starting with Spice Adams who at 6-foot, 310 pounds was stout against the run and could really get into gaps. We’ve also got Scott Paxson, who had more length at 6-foot-4, 290 and held up well against the run and went on play nose tackle at the next level. Paxson was an All-Big Ten selection as a senior.

Linebackers: About four picks before he took Paul Posluszny, Patrick mentioned he had someone in mind and was surprised he was still on the board. That’s where picking eighth killed, as I knew we both wanted Poz and I could only sit and wait. Instead, however, I ended up with All-American Brandon Short, who may be the most underrated member of LBU of all-time. Short was an All-American and along with LaVar, was a finalist for the 1999 Butkus Award, the first duo to do so. He, not LaVar, led that team in tackles and was the shot caller on that defense. Alongside short, I’ve got Nyeem Wartman-White, who I think people sort of forget about. Wartman-White made eight starts as a redshirt freshman and then 12 the following year, amassing 75 tackles along the way, second-best on the team. He was set to be a huge player on defense in 2015 before an ACL injury stopped his career in its tracks. On the other side, we have Justin Kurpeikis. Kurpeikis played with his hand in the dirt most of his PSU career before switching to OLB in the pros. Kurpeikis’ job on my team is simple, stop the run and get after the quarter. He’s exclusively a box linebacker who can be employed almost like an additional rush end in passing situations where maybe he goes down to DL and a DT comes off the field, moving Gross-Matos inside.

Cornerback: For all the talk about how soft the secondary was as a whole in this draft, I’m very happy with my haul. Anwar Phillips was a huge part of that awesome 2005 defense. He’s a physical corner who was comfortable playing press as well as in Tom Bradley’s softer scheme and coming up and making tackles. On the other side, you have Steph Morris who despite his stature was also a physical tackler and had the quickness to chase around smaller wide receivers. As a package, I’m pretty pumped with how I made out.

Safeties: Safety is an interesting situation. Amos played both corner and safety for Penn State, but has shown with a stellar NFL career that if he’d been allowed to focus just on safety at PSU, he may have been one of the nation’s best. But such is like when you’re the best player in the defensive backfield and probably one of Penn State’s best secondary players of all-time. Opposite him, we have SOA, who only started for one season but made it a good one. Obeng-Agyapong made 41 tackles from his strong safety spot on a defense that ranked 16th nationally with just 19.1 points per game allowed. With Amos patrolling on the top, I’m comfortable allowing SOA to walk down into the box and helping against the run, something that will be important against guys like Saquon, Carter, Enis and LJ.

Kicker: Boone had a bit of an advantage in that he went to school about 15 minutes from where I grew up, but he was also really freakin’ good. Controlling field position is huge in football and your punter is essentially you’re 12th defense. The Mechanicsburg (PA) product led the Big Ten in punting each of his final two seasons, including an impressive 43.0 average as a senior, where 15 of his 39 punts landed inside the 20. His hang time also led PSU to the top 15 nationally in net punting and punt return defense. Folks, Jeremy Boone was a defensive weapon.

Summary: As a whole, I think my team will compete with just about everyone else’s thanks to the defense. Offensively, it lacks star power, but there’s plenty of athleticism and I think the fit is fantastic. Control the game and the clock offensively with the run, then get after opponents on defense with speed and physicality. That, boys (and girls), is how you win football games.