The 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone and to say it was a fruitful one for Penn State would be understatement. The Nittany Lions had eight players draft — Jahan Dotson (1st), Arnold Ebiketie (2nd), Jaquan Brisker (2nd), Brandon Smith (4th), Jordan Stout (4th), Tariq Castro-Fields (6th), Rasheed Walker (7th), and Jesse Luketa (7th) — which was the most of the Franklin era.
Looking ahead to the 2023 NFL Draft, it doesn’t look like the Nittany Lions will have quite as many drafted, but who would have thought that Arnold Ebiketie would be a second round pick last season? So while there is tons of time between now and next April, let’s take a look and see which Penn Stater could hear their name called next spring.
CB Joey Porter Jr. (RS JR)
Although there is a candidate or two to surpass him, I think it’s pretty clear that Joey Porter Jr. is the most highly-touted of Penn State’s prospects. He’s long, he’s athletic, he shows good instincts — though he maybe needs to play a little less aggressive. The NFL bloodlines with his pops won’t hurt either. Still a long way to go, but he’s really the only Penn Stater to be mocked as a first rounder a year out.
S Ji’Ayir Brown (SR+)
Brown broke out in a big way in 2021, picking off six passes over the course of the season. And honestly, the stats matched the eye test; Brown looked much more comfortable last season than he did in 2020. He was playing confident and aggressive, and that progression only continued as the year went on. Brown has just average size at 5-foot-11 and isn’t a freaky athlete, but like his former Lackawanna and Penn State teammate Jaquan Brisker, he profiles as the type of player who works his way into the second or third round.
DT PJ Mustipher (SR+)
There is no bigger fan of PJ Mustipher on the planet Earth than myself. If he didn’t get hurt, I think he would have been a lock as a Day 2 pick — if not someone who squeaked their way into the first round. But with the torn ACL, it remains to be seen just what type of player Mustipher could be. Provided he’s healthy and is a similar player to last year, he should still find himself as a Day 2 pick.
TE Theo Johnson (JR)
You want to talk about classic Penn State? It’s having a 6-foot-6, 255-pound unicorn at tight end only for him to spend most of his first two seasons as the backup tight end. He then has a quasi-breakout season (say 31 receptions and four touchdowns) as a junior and says sayonara for the NFL.
I can it now, folks: “The Theo Johnson Story.”
WR Parker Washington (JR)
Parker Washington is tough to get a read on because he lacks great size at just 5-foot-10 and isn’t the most explosive athlete. Still, he’s been extremely productive in two seasons — 100 receptions and 10 touchdowns — and just like he was as a recruit, just feels like a guy who will outproduce the expectations at the next level.
WR Mitchell Tinsley (SR+)
Like Washington, Tinsley has been super productive the last two seasons, but now he’ll have the chance to prove it on a larger stage in the Big Ten. While he has just average size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and isn’t an elite athlete, if he puts up similar numbers to what he did at Western Kentucky, he’ll have a great shot at being drafted in the mid-rounds.
DE Adisa Isaac (RS JR)
This one is all about potential because while Isaac has flashed at times during his Penn State career, he only has 3 sacks and 4.5 TFLs in 14 games spanning the 2019 and 2020 season. He missed last year with what was believed to be an achilles injury so we’ll see how he bounces back. He certainly has the ability to work his way into a Day 2 pick.
QB Sean Clifford (SR+)
It’s too early in the offseason for this.