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NFL Draft Preview: Penn State Hopefuls

While many of us will be drinking away our last weekend of the semester studying for finals this weekend, a few Penn State football players will be waiting for their names to be called during the NFL Draft, which begins this Thursday and ends on Saturday. Here’s what to expect from a few of our Nittany Lion hopefuls as they end their careers in Happy Valley and look toward the pros.

DEVON STILL, Defensive Tackle

Devon Still played as #71 for Penn State. Photo by Dave Cole.

The most notable draft prospect that Penn State has to offer is Walter Camp All-American Devon Still, the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player and Defensive Lineman of the Year. Here’s our take on him.

Projected round: 1st-2nd
Possible teams: St. Louis, Philadelphia, Denver, New England, Green Bay

PROS

  • Great first step; quickness for a man of his size (6′ 5”, 310 lbs)
  • Good combination of speed, power, and athleticism
  • Good fundamentals; pro-ready
  • Ability to collapse the pocket; ability to beat double-teams
  • Playmaker behind the line of scrimmage
  • Potential scheme flexibility (4-3 3-technique or nose; 3-4 DE)

CONS

  • Inconsistent
  • Can disappear for long stretches during games (see 45-7 loss to Wisconsin)
  • Not creative at disengaging blockers, relies heavily on first step for splash plays
  • Lacks a full repertoire of pass-rush moves; relies heavily on bull rush, first step

Conclusion

Still shows a lot of promise going forward, starting with his dominant performance during the 2011 Outback Bowl against Florida (3.5 TFL vs. current Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey) and ending with his spectacular senior season, in which he recorded 55 tackles (17 for loss), 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a batted pass. When he’s on his game, he’s a force to be reckoned with. The biggest knock on Still is when and for how long he is on his game. Still belongs in the second tier of defensive tackles after Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox, LSU’s Michael Brockers, and Memphis’ combine monster Dontari Poe; expect him to be drafted closer to the end of round one or the beginning of round two.

EVERYONE ELSE
After Still, don’t expect to hear any more Nittany Lions called during Day 1 and Day 2 of the NFL Draft in this relatively weak Penn State draft class. So, without further ado, we present WR Derek Moye, DE Jack Crawford, G Johnnie Troutman, LB Nate Stupar, and FB Joe Suhey, and what to expect from them during the final few rounds of the draft.

DEREK MOYE, Wide Receiver

Moye is an intriguing prospect in that he has the height (6′ 4”) and speed (4.52 40-yard dash) that pro teams look for in their receivers. He may well be a late-round sleeper (Rounds 6-7), especially because we weren’t ever able to see the full extent of what Moye is capable of, given the awful quarterback play that Penn State has suffered through these last couple seasons.

JACK CRAWFORD, Defensive End

Jack Crawford has the physical tools expected of an NFL defensive end–6’5”, 274 lbs, 4.76 40-yard dash (1.70 10-yard split)–with solid production in college. On the bright side, he had a great end to the 2011 season, with four sacks in games against Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. He is expected to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round.

JOHNNIE TROUTMAN, Guard

Troutman was a three-year starter at guard, which is a plus, but he performed poorly at both the Senior Bowl and the draft combine. In addition, his skills as a run-blocker exceed his skills as a pass-blocker at this point. Troutman is expected to go in rounds 5-7.

NATE STUPAR, Linebacker

Stupar is high football IQ player who provided solid production during his lone year as a starter in 2011. However, his speed (4.75 40-yard dash) is unspectacular, though he does possess prototypical NFL size (6′ 1”, 231 lbs). Stupar may be drafted in the final two rounds, if at all.

JOE SUHEY, Fullback

The son of former Chicago Bear Matt Suhey, who served as Walter Payton’s lead blocker, Joe looks to follow in his father’s footsteps as an NFL fullback. Unfortunately, the pass-happy (“video game-style”) modern NFL offenses have rendered fullback an unnecessary position. Fortunately for Joe Suhey, he isn’t just a traditional “thumper” fullback and can contribute as a receiver and a special teamer. If Suhey is drafted, he’ll most likely go in the 7th; if not, expect him to sign with an NFL team as a free agent.

Some other Nittany Lions to look out for who could potentially be drafted late or sign on with a team as an a free agent are Stephfon Green, D’Anton Lynn, Chaz Powell, Nick Sukay, Drew Astorino, Eric Latimore, Andrew Szczerba, Quinn Barham, Chima Okoli, and Deon’Tae Pannell.

This post was written in consultation of scouting reports here, here, here, and here.

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About the Author

Bobby Chen

Writer and photographer, helping tell the many stories of the Penn State community.

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