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Predicting Where Nittany Lions Will Land In The 2023 NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL Draft is here.

With the annual selection weekend beginning today, there are plenty of Nittany Lions standing on the precipice of realizing their lifelong dreams.

Many analysts are describing this year’s edition as one of the most unpredictable in recent memory. As a result, we decided to put our reputations on the line and call our shot.

Here’s where we think Penn State’s draft-eligible players will end up over this weekend:

Barney Amor, Punter

Frankie Marzano: I can see Barney Amor going as an undrafted free agent. I think he showed his talent and skill last season that could make for the perfect signing as an undrafted free agent with a high upside.

Sam Fremin: Undrafted free agent. At the beginning of the season, Amor looked like a really strong candidate to send another Nittany Lion to the NFL. As of right now, his path has a lot of obstacles in his way.

Connor Krause: Undrafted

Joe Lister: Undrafted free agent. If I’m an NFL general manager, I’m absolutely drafting Barney Amor. That being said, Amor has only seen real playing time in two seasons of college football. It’s hard for anyone to use a draft pick on him with that level of experience.

Nolan Wick: Undrafted

CJ Doebler: Undrafted free agent. I don’t see Amor’s name being called during the draft, but I do think that he’s good enough to earn an invite to minicamp somewhere this fall. Amor would be a good fit for the Eagles, Patriots, or 49ers — the three teams that need punters the most.

Ji’Ayir Brown, Safety

Frankie Marzano: Brown can go as high as the second round in my opinion. His career at Penn State was nothing short of spectacular, and he showed he can compete consistently against some of the best teams in the country. He might be the perfect fit for the New York Jets to bolster its already stacked defense.

Sam Fremin: New York Jets, fourth round. I think Brown will go higher than people think. Brown can bring the No Fly Zone to New York.

Connor Krause: New York Jets, fourth round. Despite the Jets recently luring the services of safeties Jordan Whitehead and Chuck Clark in free agency, Robert Saleh’s bunch still lacks long-term depth on the backend. Behind Whitehead and Clark’s veteran presence, Brown would likely start his career in the Big Apple in third-down nickel packages, where he could thrive in his patented “prowler” role under Manny Diaz’s lead at Penn State.

Joe Lister: Philadelphia Eagles, third round. The Philadelphia Eagles don’t necessarily need a safety, but they could always use the depth. Ji’Ayir Brown is a good selection for late in the third round to give anyone a little bit of breathing room on the depth chart.

CJ Doebler: Cleveland Browns, third round. While I don’t think Brown is first or second-round talent, he’ll definitely be well suited for the league after working himself up to a roster spot for the Nittany Lions. Brown would help the Browns’ weak secondary.

Nolan Wick: Minnesota Vikings, fifth round. The Vikings had one of the worst passing defenses in the league last season. Brown’s veteran experience makes him a viable option to answer those woes in due time.

Sean Clifford, Quarterback

Frankie Marzano: I wouldn’t be surprised if Clifford ended up as a late-round draft pick to the Green Pay Packers. Now that Aaron Rodgers is off to New York, Green Bay could use a backup behind Jordan Love. When Clifford was healthy, he was good.

Sam Fremin: Green Bay Packers, round seven. The back end of the draft is so random. Ben DiNucci got drafted out of James Madison. I expect Clifford will hear his name toward the end.

Connor Krause: Undrafted

Joe Lister: Green Bay Packers, round five. Yes, Sean Clifford will be selected in the NFL Draft. Clifford isn’t a major pickup, but Green Bay just lost a franchise quarterback. If Jordan Love doesn’t pan out, maybe Clifford will.

CJ Doebler: Indianapolis Colts, seventh round. Clifford lacks the arm strength and decision-making ability to be a starting NFL QB, but I believe he’ll definitely bring experience and depth to a QB room, fitting in the best in the Indianapolis Colts’ scheme as a backup.

Nolan Wick: New York Giants, undrafted free agent. The Giants have shown interest in Clifford, as he visited the team facility recently. He won’t get drafted, but New York is a good bet to pick him up as an undrafted free agent.

PJ Mustipher, Defensive Tackle

Frankie Marzano: Las Vegas Raiders, sixth round. Mustipher will probably go in a later round of the draft, but he could be one of the best values at that time. In my opinion, he has a higher ceiling than what most draft experts are saying.

Sam Fremin: Arizona Cardinals, seventh round. Mustipher’s injury really set him back last season. I was a lot more bullish this time last year.

Connor Krause: Undrafted

Joe Lister: Undrafted free agent. PJ Mustipher was a solid defensive tackle for Penn State, but it’s hard to say that he’ll hear his name called in the draft. He’s good at filling up gaps on the defensive line, but he isn’t quite draft material. All the same, he’s certainly good enough to earn an NFL contract somewhere.

CJ Doebler: New Orleans Saints, sixth round. Mustipher has some notable weaknesses, like his inability to jump off the line and pose a real threat as a pass rusher. But, I think he can be drafted by the Saints and be a valuable asset to the bottom of a roster that desperately needs players all over the defensive side of the ball.

Nolan Wick: Houston Texans, sixth round. Houston needs help at practically every position, including defensive line. The Texans probably won’t select a defensive lineman early on, so a proven player in Mustipher in the middle-to-late rounds would make sense.

Jake Pinegar, Kicker

Frankie Marzano: After a successful fifth season with Penn State, Pinegar will most likely end up signing as an undrafted free agent.

Sam Fremin: Undrafted

Connor Krause: Undrafted

Joe Lister: Undrafted free agent. Jake Pinegar is a kicker, and if that doesn’t say enough, he’s a kicker whose longest career field goal is 50 yards. He’s good enough for a contract, but not good enough for a draft selection.

CJ Doebler: Undrafted free agent. I don’t think Pinegar’s name will be called just like his other special teams counterpart, but I do believe he’ll be in the NFL next season, just on a practice squad. Currently, the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings could use an upgrade in the field goal kicker position that Pinegar may be able to back up.

Nolan Wick: Undrafted

Joey Porter Jr., Cornerback

Frankie Marzano: Pittsburgh Steelers, first round. Next question.

Sam Fremin: New England Patriots, first round. He’s got the intangibles, and now he just needs to hear his name called.

Connor Krause: Pittsburgh Steelers, first round. From drafting James Conner, Kenny Pickett, and Conner Heyward since 2017, the Steelers have grown accustomed to selecting prospects with feel-good stories centered around pre-established regional or family ties. The Steelers are in need of a cornerback to anchor their secondary, and with Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez slated to fall off the board early, Porter will likely land in the lap of the squad his father, Joey Porter Sr., played for from 1999 to 2006.

Joe Lister: Pittsburgh Steelers, first round. This pick is a little difficult. Frankly, I don’t think that Joey Porter Jr. is going to fall this far down the list. That being said, the Steelers have every reason to draft the son of a team legend. Not only is Porter a good pickup, but he’d also be great for ticket sales.

CJ Doebler: Pittsburgh Steelers, first round. Joey Porter Jr. is going to follow in his father’s footsteps and head to the Steelers this upcoming season. Porter is the perfect fit for the Steelers to introduce a young prospect that will pan out in the long term for the black and gold.

Nolan Wick: Pittsburgh Steelers, first round. This pick makes sense for both sides, and Porter will likely be available at No. 17 overall. A rebuilding Steelers team would make sense for Porter, as that environment gives him ample time to develop (as many believe it may take time) without the pressure of winning right away. Plus, Porter would get to play for his dad’s former team.

Juice Scruggs, Center

Frankie Marzano: Washington Commanders, sixth round. I am honestly not sure where he will go, but Scruggs talked to the Commanders a decent amount during Pro Day.

Sam Fremin: Washington Commanders, sixth round. Scruggs drew a lot of personal attention from the Commanders at Pro Day. Scruggs will probably hear his name called, so I’m using that as my random benchmark.

Connor Krause: Las Vegas Raiders, fourth round. The Raiders are thin across their battered offensive line and are poised to add cornerstones at tackle and guard before addressing the hole at center. Scruggs, the draft class’ No. 4 overall center according to Pro Football Network, could prove to be a high-value selection for second-year general manager Dave Ziegler in the protection of Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

Joe Lister: Houston Texans, sixth round. Juice Scruggs isn’t going to hear his name called too early in the draft, but he’ll hear his name all the same. Right now, Houston could use a center, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be Scruggs.

CJ Doebler: New York Giants, fifth round. The former Penn State center will be an asset to any team that drafts him, not only on the field but also in the locker room. Scruggs will most likely be a backup for his first few years, but I think he is the center of the future for the Giants.

Nolan Wick: Dallas Cowboys, fifth round. The Cowboys are always looking to upgrade at offensive line, but it isn’t the highest priority in this year’s draft. However, selecting Scruggs in the fifth round is a low-risk, high-reward scenario, as he can play more than one position.

Chris Stoll, Long Snapper

Frankie Marzano: If Stoll isn’t selected as a late-round pick, he will definitely be signed as an undrafted free agent. It will be difficult for teams to ignore the nation’s best long snapper.

Sam Fremin: Seattle Seahawks, seventh round. Long snappers are important. Ask Bill Belichick. The Seahawks will need one soon, as their aging option approaches the end of his contract. Stoll is the best of the best this year.

Connor Krause: Undrafted

Joe Lister: Undrafted free agent. Chris Stoll is a long snapper. Stoll is a really good long snapper, but he’s a long snapper. Someone will pick him up, but not during the draft.

CJ Doebler: Undrafted free agent. There aren’t many long-snapping vacancies open this season, but I believe Stoll can go undrafted and end up on a team that is building for the future — possibly the Houston Texans due to their current long snapper being older and having a contract that’s up after this year.

Nolan Wick: Undrafted

Brenton Strange, Tight End

Frankie Marzano: Green Bay Packers, fourth round. It’ll be interesting to see if the Packers want to build talent around Jordan Love, and drafting Strange would be the perfect way to begin that mission. The team currently doesn’t have a starting tight end on the roster, so I believe that Strange will be a perfect fit with the Packers.

Sam Fremin: San Francisco 49ers, third round. Strange is a low-risk target that could allow head coach Kyle Shanahan to open up George Kittle. Plus, the Niners have three of the final four picks in the third round.

Connor Krause: Detroit Lions, third round. After moving TJ Hockenson to the Vikings in a midseason trade, the Lions remain on the prowl for a bonafide franchise tight end that can help maximize the passing attack behind Jared Goff’s arm. With a pair of first and second-round selections, Dan Campbell’s unit will likely address prevision needs across the front seven first before reaching for a tight end. Dalton Kincaid, Michael Mayer, and Darnell Washington could prove to fall from round one to the third’s midway point, resulting in Strange’s arrival in Motor City.

Joe Lister: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fifth round. I really like Brenton Strange, but he can be a little shaky during his route running. With a good tight end class this year, it’s hard to put him much higher than the fourth or fifth rounds. That being said, he could certainly join former Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin in sunny Florida.

CJ Doebler: Green Bay Packers, fourth round. Brenton Strange is another in a long line of NFL-caliber tight ends to come out of Penn State, and stepping up to fill the tight end spot for new Packers quarterback Jordan Love is the perfect place for Strange to make a name for himself.

Nolan Wick: Washington Commanders, fourth round. Although Washington has two decent tight ends in Logan Thomas and John Bates, the former is getting increasingly injury prone. He will need to be replaced soon, and Strange would be a reliable mid-round selection given his size and skill.

Jonathan Sutherland, Linebacker/Safety

Frankie Marzano: Sutherland will probably also go as an undrafted free agent.

Sam Fremin: Undrafted free agent. Sutherland really didn’t impress throughout his collegiate career.

Connor Krause: Undrafted

Joe Lister: Undrafted free agent. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Sutherland picked up by an NFL team at some point, but he didn’t necessarily showcase the necessary skills to be drafted while at Penn State.

CJ Doebler: Los Angeles Rams, seventh-round pick. Sutherland will be another late-round pick for the Nittany Lions. The Rams are in need of just about everything heading into the 2023 season, and Sutherland will be a great low-roster or practice squad addition to the Rams for the future.

Nolan Wick: Undrafted

Mitchell Tinsley, Wide Receiver

Frankie Marzano: Miami Dolphins, seventh round. I think Miami could take a shot on Tinsley, as his production decreased with the Nittany Lions offense spreading the ball across the field last year. Taking him as a late-round pick could be a low-risk, high-reward play for the Dolphins.

Sam Fremin: Undrafted free agent. Tinsley’s season was underwhelming production-wise, and he didn’t project the numbers to justify anything more than a late-round flier. He’ll see a contract, but we’ll see for how long.

Connor Krause: New York Giants, seventh round. Similar to Seattle’s late-round situation, the Giants hold three seventh-round picks included in their 10 total selections. While the Giants are already deep at wide receiver, marked by signing Parris Campbell and Isaiah Hodgins this offseason, snagging Mitchell Tinsley’s experience late on the board would likely amount to a low-risk, high-reward bet for John Mara’s front office to round out the draft.

Joe Lister: Undrafted free agent. Tinsley was a special talent at Western Kentucky, but that didn’t necessarily transfer to Penn State. In his one season with the Nittany Lions, he was the team’s third-best wideout and only caught four passes. It’s hard to see that as a top priority for teams.

CJ Doebler: New England Patriots, sixth round. Tinsley showed that he is a league-ready talent throughout his last season in the blue and white, and based on the turnover in the New England Patriots receiving room, Tinsley will be selected to add depth to the roster.

Nolan Wick: Kansas City Chiefs, undrafted free agent. Could Tinsley return to his home state of Missouri as an undrafted free agent? Why not?

Parker Washington, Wide Receiver

Frankie Marzano: Jacksonville Jaguars, fifth round. I honestly have zero clue what will happen with Washington. If he stayed one more year, I think he would have certainly been picked in the first two rounds of the draft. It will depend on how much teams think his injury will impact his rookie season. At the very least, he will possibly be picked up by the Jaguars in the fifth round.

Sam Fremin: Los Angeles Rams, fifth round. As the Rams get older, they need an influx of talent. Although he could have benefited from another year of development, Washington was promising this season. Learning from Sean McVay and Matt Stafford could benefit him.

Connor Krause: Seattle Seahawks, fifth round. The Seahawks boast a pair of fifth-round selections in the span of three picks, and beyond finding a backup gunslinger in the case of a Geno Smith injury, Seattle could grab Parker Washington late as a projectable slot receiving weapon at the next level. Washington played most of his snaps with the Nittany Lions in the slot, and aside from DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett manning the troops on the outside, Dee Eskridge is projected to be Pete Carroll’s No. 1 slot option entering 2023. Despite falling to day three, Washington could compete for immediate reps in the Pacific Northwest.

Joe Lister: Detroit Lions, fifth round. Washington had an impressive year with the Nittany Lions, but his injury — and subsequent lack of production at the end of the season — will slow him up. An extra year at Penn State could’ve bumped him into the higher rounds, but he’s looking like an average selection for NFL teams.

CJ Doebler: Baltimore Ravens, third round. Washington isn’t quite a first-round receiver talent, but he is not by any means a liability to draft, and the Ravens need to add some depth to the wide receiver slot.

Nolan Wick: Detroit Lions, third round. Detroit suddenly needs to fill a hole at wide receiver now that Jameson Williams is suspended for a large chunk of the season. Why not take a chance with a low-risk, high-reward option in Parker Washington in the third round?

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