Fourteen Penn State Football Lettermen Join NFL Teams

The NFL’s first entirely-virtual draft was a resounding success all around, and it was a particularly good weekend for Penn State football’s lettermen beginning their pro careers.

Fourteen former members of James Franklin’s team — including three who transferred away from the university — joined NFL organizations through the draft and as undrafted free agents. Five players who were part of Penn State’s 2019 roster heard their names called at the draft.

Star defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos was the first Nittany Lion drafted on Friday night. The Carolina Panthers selected him with the No. 38 overall pick, and Gross-Matos will get his pro career started under fellow Penn State letterman and State College native Matt Rhule.

It didn’t take long for the next Penn State player to get drafted, as KJ Hamler was nabbed by the Denver Broncos eight picks after Gross-Matos. Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton was a teammate of Hamler’s during the electric slot man’s redshirt year in 2017, but fans are most intrigued about Denver’s decision to have Hamler and fellow speedster Jerry Jeudy team up next season.

Reliable defensive back John Reid was Penn State’s third draftee of the weekend and the first Nittany Lion to hear his name called on the draft’s third and final day. In between servings of Suhey’s Peppers, Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans used the No. 141 overall pick on Reid, who finished his Penn State career with seven interceptions and 26 pass break-ups.

Linebacker Cam Brown became Penn State’s second draftee of day three when the New York Giants picked him in the sixth round (No. 183 overall). Brown will have plenty of familiar faces to reacquaint himself with. On top of old college teammates Saquon Barkley and Grant Haley, Brown will reunite with defensive line coach Sean Spencer, who left his post at Penn State to join the Giants’ coaching staff earlier this offseason.

Ten picks later, the Indianapolis Colts nabbed defensive tackle Robert Windsor. He’ll get his pro career started at the same venue where Penn State won the 2016 Big Ten title game against Wisconsin. Although Windsor wasn’t a crucial contributor to the defense that season, the high-motor interior lineman finished his college career with 19 tackles-for-loss, 13 sacks, and 120 total tackles over four seasons.

In addition to the five Nittany Lion draftees, six players from last year’s Penn State roster were quickly snapped up as undrafted free agents:

Three players who began their college careers at Penn State before transferring away also joined NFL organizations over the weekend. Fan-favorite backup quarterback Tommy Stevens was drafted in the seventh round (No. 240 overall) after wrapping up his collegiate career with Mississippi State.

Wide receivers Juwan Johnson and Brandon Polk signed with the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams, respectively. Johnson won the 2020 Rose Bowl with Oregon after coming up short in the game with Penn State back in 2017, and Polk shined with James Madison after struggling to produce in Happy Valley.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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