Lamont Wade’s Versatility Makes Him Intriguing, Under-The-Radar Draft Prospect

After arriving in Happy Valley as the No. 1-rated cornerback prospect in the Class of 2017 per Rivals, Lamont Wade’s journey as a Nittany Lion may have taken a few unexpected twists and turns, but it certainly did not disappoint.

The former five-star product has not received the same amount of publicity as other teammates surrounding his NFL draft stock. But the defensive back’s versatility, including his role as a special-teams ace, make him an interesting commodity at the next level.

While the consensus on Wade’s toughness in coverage remains unquestioned, scouts are hesitant to label the safety as a sure-fire draft selection due to his physical stature. Standing at just 5’9″, Wade measures several inches shorter than the prototypical NFL safety prospect, who, in a perfect world, is big enough to stop the run and cover the field with a combination of length and range.

Wade has consistently proved doubters wrong with his statistical output on the field. In four seasons as a Nittany Lion, the safety tallied 153 tackles, including 6.5 hits for a loss. Additionally, the Clairton, Pennsylvania native accounted for four forced fumbles and an interception as a staple on Brent Pry’s aggressive unit.

As an upperclassman, Wade found his groove at the safety position after facing his fair share of challenges during his initial two seasons on campus, including a position change from cornerback and a brief stint in the transfer portal. After not earning a start in a loaded defensive back room as a freshman or a sophomore, Wade racked up 22 consecutive starts to end his Penn State career.

The all-around athlete’s plethora of skills isn’t limited to the defensive side of the ball. At the end of his senior season, Wade earned the nod as the lead kickoff returner and dazzled in the role. In just five returns, Wade totaled 192 return yards, good for an astounding 38.4 yard average per run-back.

In the 2020 season finale against Illinois, the former all-state running back took a 104-yard kickoff return to the house for a touchdown, Penn State’s first since Saquon Barkley’s legendary breakaway return against Ohio State in 2017.

The combination of Wade’s physicality and speed provides NFL teams with several options for the established defensive back. With the skills necessary to play as a true cornerback, safety, or as a nickel-back, Wade’s position change is seen as a positive to many next-level scouts.

Currently, NBC Sports projects Wade to be a fourth to fifth-round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft. While NBC Sports favors Wade’s skillset, other metric-based sites aren’t as optimistic. The Draft Network has Wade slotted as the No. 291 prospect in this year’s pool, which would leave him as a likely undrafted free agent signee.

Although it’s unclear whether Wade will earn a spot on an NFL roster through the traditional draft process, the accomplished defensive back will likely find a home with a franchise in some capacity. His track record of adaptability followed by success will surely turn the heads of coaches looking for a plug-and-play athlete.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a senior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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