The 2014 NFL Draft came and went this weekend, and Penn State was — as usual — very well represented, as three of the eligible Nittany Lions were selected by NFL clubs. Furthermore, a few other players were signed as undrafted free agents after the dust settled and all of the picks were made.
Here is a list of Penn State players taken in this year’s draft, and what they can expect as the season approaches:
This is a perfect fit for a young wide receiver on a rebuilding team. Robinson will have the opportunity to develop a strong rapport with fellow rookie QB Blake Bortles (No. 3 overall, UCF), as well as complement new teammate and fellow wide receiver Marqise Lee (No. 39 overall, USC). He has all of the tools to develop into a star in the NFL, and gives the Jaguars’ offense a glimmer of hope for the future. Expect Robinson to immediately compete for the No. 1 wide receiver spot currently held by Justin Blackmon, who may be suspended for the upcoming season for drug use.
An interesting pick here, as Jones will be tasked with making the switch from a conventional 4-3 defensive scheme, to moving to a 1-technique at nose tackle, or 5-technique at defensive end in Tennessee’s 3-4 defense. Regardless of where he plays on the line, Jones will be a be a beast. The Titans ranked just 20th in rushing defense, and with Jones’ nonstop motor and a knack for stuffing the runner inside, he should provide a spark for the struggling unit.
Urschel, the reigning William V. Campbell Trophy and AAU Sullivan Award winner, joins fellow Penn State offensive lineman AQ Shipley on a talented Ravens offensive line. Urschel will primarily be a reserve guard who can contribute on special teams as a blocker, as he is currently listed behind veterans Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda. However, Urschel’s run blocking prowess and pulling ability will eventually earn him playing time, as Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was quoted as saying that Urschel will be expected to play all three interior line spots. Baltimore is a great place for him to learn, and potentially thrive.
Undrafted free agents:
LB Glenn Carson, Arizona Cardinals
ARIZONA CARDINALS!!! Can’t wait to get to work!! #CardinalNation
— Glenn Carson (@c4rs0n) May 11, 2014
Despite not being drafted, Glenn Carson still adds some good value to an already young linebacking corps. He will be a contributor on special teams as a tackling ace and act as a reserve inside linebacker. He flashed moments of brilliance during his time at Penn State, but also played inconsistently in some big games. He will need to refine his technique and focus on wrapping up and consistently taking down the ballcarrier and not getting washed out of place by offensive linemen.
OL Garry Gilliam, Seattle Seahawks
Signed with the Seattle Seahawks! God is good! Huge opportunity with a great team! — Garry Gilliam™ (@Gi77iam) May 11, 2014
Gilliam should help Seattle in its biggest position of need. Three different linemen were injured at one point last year, causing the unit to miss a combined 18 games. While he may not necessarily start right away — or even play consistently this season — his versatility and motor should give him a chance to make the roster.
(UPDATED SUNDAY, 3 P.M.) DB Malcolm Willis, San Diego Chargers — Mini camp invite
Willis joins Johnnie Troutman and Rich Ohrnberger as Penn State representatives in Southern California. He will try to help a defensive unit that was one of the worst against the pass last year, ranking 29th out of 32 teams. Willis is solid against the run, but struggled against passing teams at times, and needs to work on his coverage skills to make an impact on the next level.
OL Adam Gress, Pittsburgh Steelers — Mini camp invite
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was in State College for Gress’ Pro Day, and got to watch him work out. Apparently, he liked what he saw, as Gress received an invite to mini camp early Sunday morning.
Additional Players: RB Silas Redd, Washington Redskins and LB Khairi Fortt, New Orleans Saints
Reunited with the bro @Evan_Royster !!!
— Silas Redd (@ThirdEyeSi_) May 11, 2014
Fortt and Redd transferred in August 2012 after the NCAA sanctions were handed down. Regardless, both of these former Nittany Lions are in great positions to make their respective rosters.
Redd provides a powerful change-of-pace spark up the gut and in short yardage situations, with subtle quickness to gain chunks of yardage. His knee surgery during USC’s game vs. Cal last season has slowed him down a step, but he is still a capable ballcarrier.
Fortt — drafted in the fourth round — will have to prove himself, but with the raw athleticism that he possesses, he could wind up being more than just a camp body. He will have to make some big plays during training camp to show that his impressive combine numbers were more than just a fluke, but if he makes the team and coached up a bit technique wise, he could become a serviceable linebacker in the NFL.
(UPDATED MONDAY, 12:15 P.M.): Kicker Anthony Fera, who transferred to Texas after the sanctions were levied, was picked up by the Miami Dolphins on Monday. He made 14 of 17 field goals in his Penn State career, also seeing work as a punter and kickoff man. In his Texas career, he was 22 of 26, with a 50-yarder leading the pack.