Ahead of the top 10 showdown against the Michigan Wolverines, I’m left sitting here pondering the (few) shortcomings of the 2022 Penn State Nittany Lions.
Phrase simply: if you could take a former Penn Stater and add them to the 2022 team, who would it be, and why?
I have a few suggestions.
Penn State has been surprisingly stout up front, and the back end of the defense has been as advertised. If there’s one portion of the defense that needs help, it’s linebacker. Not to say the LB play has been bad, simply that it hasn’t quite been up to previous levels. It seems that opposing offenses are keying on that as well, throwing a bunch of shallow crosses, slants, and meshes at the defense, confounding the linebackers.
If I could add a single linebacker, it’s probably Micah Parsons. Granted his natural ability was at defensive end, but in just two seasons at the position he became a nearly unstoppable force. Give me 2020 Micah Parsons on the 2022 defense, and I’ll show you a defense that refuses to surrender any points at all.
Some others I considered here: Paul Posluszny, Sean Lee, Navorro Bowman. Give me an uber athletic linebacker that can both drop into coverage and come up to support the run.
As far as skill positions go, there aren’t many changes I’d make to the Lions. RB is set, TE is set. WR has a great slot guy (Parker Washington), and a great possession guy (Mitchell Tinsley), but seemingly nobody that can routinely take the top off the defense. Someone who routinely commands double teams - and still wins downfield.
If I could add just a single wide receiver, it’s Allen Robinson. He was never quite the burner, but damn if he couldn’t run fantastic routes and come down with contested deep balls time and time again.
Others that I pondered: Jahan Dotson, KJ Hamler, Chris Godwin. Godwin was never the burner and would likely take the same role as Tinsley, but his ability to get contested catches was up there with the best of them.
Y’all thought I was actually gonna go there, didn’t you? Shame on you!