After seeing six Penn State prospects taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, 2022 projects to be another fruitful draft for the Nittany Lions, perhaps with another year with multiple first round picks.
POTENTIAL FIRST ROUNDERS
I think the two prospects who make the most sense here are redshirt junior offensive tackle Rasheed Walker and senior safety Jaquan Brisker. Depending upon how things shook out, both could have squeaked in as Day 2 picks for this previous draft, but decided to come back with the hopes of solidifying themselves as 1st or 2nd round prospects.
Walker will check a lot of the boxes: 6-foot-6, 312 pounder who is a plus athlete, three years starting experience, and some solid game film too. It’s that last part where Walker will have the most to gain, as he has the chance to be a dominant left tackle.
Brisker checks a lot of the same boxes. He has terrific size for a safety at 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, and as evidenced by his inclusion on Bruce Feldman’s annual freak list, will make himself some money at the combine/pro day. Like Walker, Brisker will need to continue to put things together on the field — his play really improved through the 2020 season — but the pieces are there.
DOTSON’S A DAWG BUT PROBABLY NOT A 1ST ROUNDER
Listen, I love Jahan Dotson. I think he’s going to take his game to another level this season. When we look back on greatest seasons by a Penn State wide receiver, I think Dotson’s 2021 season will be at the very top of the list.
That being said, it’ll be tough for a 5-foot-11, 182-pound wide receiver without elite athleticism to go in the first round. End of the 2nd round? Definitely a possibility. But a 3rd round grade seems about right.
1ST ROUNDER OR UDFA IT REALLY COULD BE EITHER
I have no idea what to make of Brandon Smith. 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, complete freak athletically, started putting things together on the field toward the end of the 2020 season, and is now playing the Will — I mean, the potential is there for Smith. If someone told me he will be a first round pick next season, I wouldn’t question it.
On the other side of things, if someone told me Smith was coming back for another season in 2022 because the NFL barely viewed him as draftable, I wouldn’t question that either. There’s such a big variance out of what Smith could be that it’s nearly impossible to narrow done a draft projection. Big season ahead.
Here are a couple other prospects to keep an eye.
- DT PJ Mustipher: Won’t end up being a Day 1 or 2 pick, but Mustipher is a massive, nimble human being — the NFL tends to like those.
- RB Noah Cain: Has to stay healthy.
- CB Joey Porter Jr: Ridiculous length, NFL lineage, and a productive first season; Porter Jr might be more of a prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft, but like Brandon Smith, I could see his stock rise very quickly.
- CB Tariq Castro-Fields: I’ve been talking about TCF’s draft stock for half of a my lifetime; won’t have the numbers or jaw-dropping athleticism to be a high pick, but he should sneak into the later rounds.
- DE Arnold Ebiketie: Needs to continue to add size and develop a few more pass rush moves, but the length and athleticism is NFL-worthy.
- DE Adisa Isaac: I love Isaac and am a full believer in him which is why he’s listed, but he’ll need some actual production on the field.