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Penn Staters In The NFL: Season Roundup

The 2017 NFL season wrapped up on Sunday and saw a total of 30 former Penn State football players suit up for 22 different teams. Four former Nittany Lions made their NFL debuts this season, many other players made big steps in their NFL development, and 14 players are on rosters that will be competing in the playoffs starting this Saturday.


Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Godwin made the most of his chances after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2017 draft. He finished the season with 34 receptions, 525 yards, and one touchdown. Godwin had the game of his career in Week 17 of the season, catching the game-winning, 39-yard touchdown with nine seconds remaining and earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Brandon Bell, Cincinnati Bengals: Bell appeared in three games for the Bengals during his rookie season. He registered 10 tackles, including 7 in the last game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens.

Garrett Sickels, Los Angeles Rams: Sickels made his NFL debut during the Week 17 match-up against the San Francisco 49ers after being signed from the practice squad. Although playing both on the defense and special teams, he did not register a tackle during the game.

Non-Rookie Making His Debut

Sam Ficken, Los Angeles Rams: Ficken was signed by the Rams when their Pro-Bowl kicker suffered a season-ending injury prior to their Week 16 matchup. Ficken struggled in his first game missing his first extra point and field goal tries, but was successful on all his kicks in Week 17. It appears that the Rams will be going with Ficken as their kicker in the playoffs.

Players Who Saw An Increase In Time And Stats

Adrian Amos, Chicago Bears: Amos had a very nice season for the Bears, starting 10 of the 13 games he played at free safety. He finished with 69 tackles, three passes broken up, and one interception.

Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers: James finished the season with 43 catches, 372 yards, 3 touchdowns, and one blown call by the refs against the Patriots.

Trevor Williams, Los Angeles Chargers: Williams is often one of the forgotten players of Nittany Nation having gone undrafted in the 2015 NFL draft. Williams made a name for himself in the AFC West, starting the final 15 games of the season, while breaking up 13 passes and recording two interceptions.

Anthony Zettel, Detroit Lions: Zettel started all 16 games for the Lions, recording 31 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Zettel was even named John Gruden’s Gruden Grinder after a Monday Night Performance during the season.

Players Who Had Seasons Consistent With Their Careers:

Navarro Bowman, Oakland Raiders: Bowman was traded from the 49ers to the Raiders during the season and finished the season with 127 tackles, good for ninth in the league. He even recorded the Raiders first interception of the season during their week 12 match-up against the Denver Broncos.

Robbie Gould, San Francisco 49ers: Gould converted on 39-41 field goal tries during the season, leading the league in field goals made. He also finished with a 95 percent field goal conversion rate, good for second in the league, and his best mark in his 13-year career.

Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars: Posluszny finished the season with 61 tackles in 11 starts while making his first playoff appearance of his NFL career.

A.Q. Shipley, Arizona Cardinals: Shipley started all 16 games for the Cardinals at center, making his 31st consecutive start during the Week 17 match-up.

Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Smith started at left tackle, protecting Jameis Winston’s blind spot all season. He has started all 48 games since being drafted three years ago.

Image: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins: Wake finished 15th in the league with 10.5 sacks on the season.

Players Who Competed In Sports Other Than Football:

Ross Travis, Indianapolis Colts: Travis played basketball for Coach Pat Chamber from 2011 through 2014, but decided to try his hand at football professionally. He played his first 11 games of the season for the Kansas City Chiefs and the final four games of the seasons for the Colts. He finished the season with three starts at tight end and seven catches for 76 yards.

Chris Hogan, New England Patriots: Hogan played lacrosse while at Penn State from 2007 through 2010. He was limited this season due to injuries, having only played in nine games this season. The Patriots hope to have him back for the playoffs after their bye week this week. Hogan finished the season with 34 catches, 439 yards, and five touchdowns.

Image: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports


Fourteen players are on rosters that made the playoffs, but many are injured for the season and will not compete in the postseason. Those players playing for the teams in the playoffs include: Sam Ficken, LA Rams; Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs; Chris Hogan, New England Patriots; Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers; Austin Johnson, Tennessee Titans; Michael Mauti, New Orleans Saints; Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars; Garrett Sickels, LA Rams; Kyle Carter, Minnesota Vikings; and Stefen Wisniewski, Philadelphia Eagles.

The players not able to compete in the playoffs due to injuries include: Nate Stupar, New Orleans Saints; Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars; DaQuan Jones, Tennessee Titans; and Jack Crawford, Atlanta Falcons.


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About the Author

Nathaniel Pinskey

Nathaniel is only filling this out because he was forced to. He prefers to be called Nathaniel, but it always turns into Nate or Nathan. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow him on Twitter (@nlpinskey3896) even though he doesn't tweet.


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