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Jonathan Sutherland’s Versatility, Special Teams Prowess Boosts Stock Ahead Of 2023 NFL Draft

After four separate stints as a team captain for the blue and white, Jonathan Sutherland concluded his Penn State career as one of the most respected teammates in recent memory.

The 5’11” hybrid defender originally hails from Ontario, Canada, but he played his high school ball at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. He was the No. 23-ranked safety in the nation and a four-star prospect in the Class of 2017 and eventually choose to play for the Nittany Lions.

Sutherland proved to be an immediate leader as an underclassman when he arrived in Happy Valley, which led to him starting his first game during his redshirt freshman year. In 2020, he appeared in all 13 games and was voted as team captain for the first time, which remained until the end of his Penn State career.

In 2020, the safety became the first-ever Penn State football player to rep the No. 0 jersey after an NCAA rule change allowed the distinction. The newly-initiated Penn State tradition gifted the jersey to the player on the team who best represents the role of a team-first player, and Sutherland became a stalwart for the honor.

Wearing No. 0, he appeared in all nine games during the COVID-19-shortened season and recorded 14 tackles, two being for a loss. In 2021, another first occurred, marking his this first and only interception during his time at Penn State.

During his final season, he filled a starting spot on the defense by shifting to linebacker. He started eight games in 2022, recorded a career-high 38 tackles, and joined Sean Clifford as the only four-year captain in Penn State history.

Now, he’s setting out to compete at the NFL level, where he’s positioned as a long shot to be drafted. He recorded a 4.58-second 40-yard-dash during Penn State’s Pro Day and plans to play safety at the next level. While his tackling and coverage skills as a defensive back could improve, he makes up for those flaws in other areas.

One area includes his big-hitting ability. Whether he’s rushing the passer or hitting a receiver in space, he’s proven to give it his all when he steps on the field.

Sutherland is currently projected as a late-round commodity that could likely fall as an undrafted free agent. In addition to his give-it-all mentality, he served as a special teams ace for the Nittany Lions.

His scrappy play on defense and special teams gives him an opportunity to carve out a solid career as a pro, whether it consists of heading a secondary or being a punt-team gunner.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him watching reruns of Community or The Office. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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