Update on Penn Staters in the NFL
Year in and year out, Penn State sends players into the NFL. This should come as no surprise, as the Nittany Lions routinely field talented rosters full of NFL-caliber talent. Currently, 25 Nittany Lions, including five from the Class of 2014, find themselves on NFL rosters for the upcoming season. Here’s a look at every Nittany Lion in the NFL this season:
LB Navorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers
Bowman, who suffered a gruesome knee injury in the 49ers’ loss in the NFC Championship Game, finds himself on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to begin the year. This means that he must remain inactive for the first six games of the season, although it looks like he’ll be inactive longer than that as he recovers from a torn ACL. The hope is that he returns to the lineup around midseason, although this is an injury that cannot be rushed. Bowman is one of the best young linebackers in the NFL, and he and Patrick Willis team up to create the most fearsome linebacker duo in the entire league.
WR Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Allen Robinson possesses all of the skills necessary to succeed in the NFL, and finds himself in a favorable position after being drafted by the Jaguars in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. A complete overhaul of the roster was conducted by Jaguars’ brass, and included selecting highly touted quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall selection. Robinson will thrive off of having a talented player like Bortles throwing him passes, as opposed to last year’s quarterback debacle of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. The only issue with Robinson this offseason was staying healthy, as a nagging hamstring injury sidelined him for the preseason. There is hope that he plays in the opener, though that may be in more of a reduced role as fellow rookies Allen Hurns and Marquise Lee were able to stay on the field. Either way, Robinson has a bright future in Jacksonville.
LB Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys
Lee’s career has taken a disappointing turn. Primed to have another monster season as the heart and soul of the Cowboys, all of that came careening down after Lee suffered a fluke injury during OTAs on May 27. Cowboys rookie Zack Martin lunged at Lee on a run play, toppling him over as a result. The chop block tore Lee’s ACL and partially tore his meniscus, sidelining him for the entire season. Sean Lee was beloved at Penn State, and will continue on to have a fine career as the premier tackling centerpiece for the Cowboys’ front seven if he can stay healthy.
QB Matt McGloin, Oakland Raiders
Matt McGloin has always been known for his tenacity and grit, and that hasn’t stopped since he entered the league as an undrafted free agent. McGloin had himself a fantastic preseason, making him more than capable to fill in if need be. He is the third quarterback behind starter Derek Carr and veteran Matt Schaub. While he may not fit the mold of a “prototypical” NFL quarterback, we think “Moxie” will stick around for a long time in the league due to his intangibles and will to win.
LB Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars
Paul Posluszny, one of Penn State’s greatest tacklers, remains one of the only bright spots on the Jaguars’ defense. His presence in the middle is irreplaceable, and he is the key to the Jaguars’ success in the AFC South.
LB Michael Mauti, Minnesotta Vikings
Michael Mauti will forever be remembered as the guiding light after the scandal broke, and was largely credited as being the glue that held the team together. Now, Mauti finds himself in a reserve role in a talented Vikings’ linebacking corps. He is slated to back up former Iowa Hawkeye Chad Greenway at the “Will” linebacker position, which is on the outside in the Vikings’ 4-3 defensive scheme. He will look to contribute on special teams.
LB Gerald Hodges, Minnesotta Vikings
Hodges, like Mauti, was a key player during the trying times after the scandal. He joins Mauti in the Vikings’ linebacking corps in a reserve role behind Vikings’ first round pick Anthony Barr out of UCLA. Hodges will be more of a primary reserve, and should see time in certain packages and situations. Don’t expect him, however, to be returning punts anytime soon.
OT Garry Gilliam, Seattle Seahawks
Garry Gilliam’s road to the NFL was not easy. After playing tight end for the majority of his Nittany Lions career, he made the switch to offensive tackle during his fifth and final season of eligibility. That change proved to be pivotal to both the success of Penn State’s offensive line and his chances of making an NFL roster. After going undrafted, he was claimed by the Seattle Seahawks with the odds stacked against him to make the final roster. Gilliam showed the resiliency displayed all throughout his Penn State career and wound up making the final 53-man roster. Don’t expect to see much of Gilliam this season, as the Seahawks are invested in starter Russell Okung.
OT John Urschel, Baltimore Ravens
Urschel, unlike fellow lineman Garry Gilliam, was selected in the 2014 NFL Draft in the fifth round. The reigning William V. Campbell trophy winner could find himself in the mix on a relatively new-look Ravens’ offensive line. Urschel’s spot on the roster was bolstered by the release of another former Nittany Lion great: A.Q. Shipley.
Other notable players and their teams:
- LB Glenn Carson, Arizona Cardinals
- DE Jack Crawford, Dallas Cowboys
- K Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
- DE Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs
- DT Jordan Hill, Seattle Seahawks
- WR Chris Hogan (Played lacrosse at Penn State, football at Monmouth), Buffalo Bills
- DT DaQuan Jones, Tennessee Titans
- WR Jordan Norwood (Injured Reserve), Denver Broncos
- DT Jared Odrick, Miami Dolphins
- OG Rich Ohrnberger, San Diego Chargers
- TE Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers
- C A.Q. Shipley, Indianapolis Colts
- TE Mickey Shuler, Jacksonville Jaguars
- LB Nathan Stupar, Atlanta Falcons
- OG Johnnie Troutman, San Diego Chargers
- OG John Urschel, Baltimore Ravens
- DE Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins
- C Stefen Wisniewski, Oakland Raiders
- OT Adam Gress
- OT Mike Farrell
- WR Derek Moye (Added to Steelers’ practice squad)
- DT Devon Still (Added to Bengals’ practice squad)
- FB Michael Zordich
- RB Evan Royster (Dropped in favor of former Penn State running back Silas Redd)
We’ll keep this list updated if anyone from this list signs with another team.
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About the Author
Penn State’s magical 2019 season came to a close in heartbreaking fashion at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
It’s hard not to draw parallels between this year’s lacrosse team and a couple other Nittany Lion teams that have used the City of Brotherly Love as a launching pad to sustained success.
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