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Predicting Where Nittany Lions Will Land In The 2024 NFL Draft

It’s NFL Draft day, folks.

This year, 13 former Penn State football players have NFL potential with two Nittany Lions expected to be taken off the board in the first round.

However, as with every draft, anything can happen. Our staff decided to take a crack at predicting where each member of this year’s Nittany Lion draft class will be chosen.

Olu Fashanu

CJ Doebler: New Orleans Saints, 14th overall. Fashanu has been sliding in recent mock drafts because of quarterback and running back-needy teams near the top of the draft. Right now, it’s looking like most mock drafts have Fashanu going to the Saints with the 14th pick of the draft to help out a team that desperately needs good players on its front lines.

Joe Lister: New Orleans Saints, 14th overall. The Saints could use some help on the offensive line, and Fashanu has been frequently pinned to head south. I’m a little bummed that Fashanu will likely be drafted behind Notre Dame’s Joe Alt but such is life. It’s also worth noting, however, that NFL insiders are saying teams may look to trade up for some offensive tackles. Fashanu could land in the top 10.

Mitch Corcoran: New Orleans Saints, 14th overall. It’s very possible Fashanu goes earlier to the Jets or Titans, but I don’t see him going past No. 14. I think the Saints try to make up for whiffing on Trevor Penning two years ago. Fashanu can come in and be a day-one starter.

Nolan Wick: New Orleans Saints, 14th overall. New Orleans suddenly has a glaring need on the offensive line with James Hurst retiring and Ryan Ramczyk’s injury status uncertain. Factor that in with Trevor Penning not working out, and the Saints are one of the teams that are most in need of another lineman. Fashanu has what it takes to start from day one and become an impact player.

Chop Robinson

CJ Doebler: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 26th overall. Robinson’s draft stock has been all over the place recently, but I still believe he’s going to be taken in the first round. His numbers aren’t the flashiest, but Robinson is a presence on the defensive line that won’t go unnoticed by NFL scouts.

Joe Lister: Arizona Cardinals, 27th overall. Is it weird to say that a first-rounder could be underrated? Robinson is possibly the best defensive end in this draft. He’s explosive — the numbers speak for that — and violent. Robinson can provide the Cardinals with much-needed help in the pass rush, something he did for Penn State in the last two years.

Mitch Corcoran: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 26th overall. This pick just makes sense. Robinson has proven to be a first-round talent, but there aren’t too many teams that are looking for edge rushers in the mid to late-first round. Tampa Bay lost Shaquil Barrett this offseason and Todd Bowles has shown he likes quick pass rushers by drafting Calijah Kancey in the first round last year.

Nolan Wick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 26th overall. This is the most frequent destination for Robinson in mock drafts, and I can see why. The Buccaneers need to replace Shaquil Barrett. Robinson is raw, which is why he won’t go higher. However, he’s a project with significant potential to be among the most disruptive pass-rushers in the NFL.

Theo Johnson

CJ Doebler: Washington Commanders, third round. Penn State consistently produces talented tight ends, and I think the league has begun to take notice. Johnson had one of the best combines for a tight end in history, and I think that will significantly impact his selection come draft day. Washington will be looking for help in both run blocking and providing a target for whoever it takes with the second overall pick, and Johnson is the perfect prospect.

Joe Lister: Denver Broncos, fourth round. Theo Johnson isn’t one of the best tight end prospects in this draft class, I’ll admit this. However, he can be a good supplement for a team that just wants a decent option. The Broncos might not be getting what they want from Greg Dulcich, so if they want to go a younger route, TEU might provide. A smart team will also recognize that Johnson stood out at Penn State in a two-tight end system.

Mitch Corcoran: Los Angeles Chargers, third round. Jim Harbaugh typically likes big, athletic tight ends and Johnson is just that. He is reliable in the red zone and can be a threat vertically. The Chargers’ tight end room currently isn’t that impressive, and Johnson would be a great addition as a third-round pick.

Nolan Wick: Washington Commanders, third round. Washington needs a tight end after new general manager Adam Peters released Logan Thomas. The team has reportedly met with multiple tight end prospects, and Johnson is the type of gritty, physical player that would make sense for Peters to target given what the San Francisco 49ers did while he was there. Go Commanders.

Johnny Dixon

CJ Doebler: Detroit Lions, sixth round. Dixon was an important part of the Penn State secondary last year and I think he’ll hear his name called in the later rounds of this year’s draft. Dixon has a high ceiling and scouts consistently rate him as a high-level developmental prospect.

Joe Lister: Buffalo Bills, sixth round. Some folks have Johnny Dixon going undrafted, but I don’t really see it. He’s a consistent corner who took on a pretty major role in Penn State’s defense during Kalen King’s downfall. He’s not going to a crazy high selection but getting him late could be a steal.

Mitch Corcoran: New England Patriots, fifth round. Dixon will be a good depth piece no matter where he goes. The Patriots always seem to like physical, man-to-man corners, and coming from Penn State, Dixon fits the bill.

Nolan Wick: Miami Dolphins, seventh round. Miami could use Dixon as a depth piece to bolster its secondary. He has upside and can develop into a productive player. Dixon was consistent for Penn State, so the Dolphins will be getting a steal.

Kalen King

CJ Doebler: Minnesota Vikings, sixth round. King had a monumental fall from grace this season, slipping from a first-round projection to a late-round pick. I think that the tape against Ohio State says a lot about how King will function at the next level, but I do think he can develop and will be taken late in the draft.

Joe Lister: Denver Broncos, fifth round. I don’t think I’d draft Kalen King, frankly, but some NFL teams still see the player from the start of Penn State’s season and not what happened after Ohio State. I think deep down, the old King is still in there. It just might take a lot to bring it out of him.

Mitch Corcoran: Detroit Lions, fifth round. King’s draft stock has plummeted after a down year and tough Senior Bowl and combine performances. The Lions are thin at cornerback, so it’s possible they draft multiple corners and King would be a solid addition with lots of experience. Plus, he will return home to Detroit.

Nolan Wick: Arizona Cardinals, sixth round. Marvin Harrison Jr. was a challenge for King, and that matchup definitely hurt his draft stock. I think Arizona drafts Harrison with the fourth overall pick, so putting King on the same team as him wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.

Hunter Nourzad

CJ Doebler: Los Angeles Chargers, fourth round. The Chargers are a team that needs help at just about every position, especially on the offensive line. Nourzad, after a brief falter at the beginning of the season, was an extremely consistent center who complemented the rest of the line well. I don’t think Nourzad goes any higher than the fourth round, but I think he’s a good pick depending on who is left that late.

Joe Lister: Philadelphia Eagles, fifth round. Yeah, I’ll go there. Go Birds. The Eagles already have their replacement for the greatest football player of all time (Jason Kelce), but depth couldn’t hurt. The Eagles’ line, while experienced, is also aging. Bringing in some fresh, in-state blood might not be a bad idea.

Mitch Corcoran: San Francisco 49ers, fourth round. San Francisco has an aging offensive line, and its starting center Jake Brendel is a part of that. Nourzad not only provides some youth, but I think he would have a shot to start as a rookie. In his college career, he has shown he can play almost anywhere on the offensive line and that versatility is a big benefit to Nourzad’s game.

Nolan Wick: Los Angeles Chargers, fourth round. Jim Harbaugh emphasizes building up the offensive line, and the Chargers are in desperate need of more linemen. Nourzad is a good pick given his veteran experience, which was evident last season.

Caedan Wallace

CJ Doebler: Pittsburgh Steelers, fourth round. Yes, two Penn State linemen are getting chosen in the fourth round. Wallace is another mid-round talent who was an anchor on the Penn State line this year. The Steelers haven’t had a good line in a while, so I think that one of the better linemen in the draft is a good pick for the fourth round.

Joe Lister: Minnesota Vikings, fourth round. Wallace is a solid guard who should get a solid draft spot. The Vikings could use a guard, but they need a quarterback and edge rusher first. We’ll see how the Vikings balance their needs, but Wallace could be a good option.

Mitch Corcoran: Houston Texans, fourth round. The Texans’ right tackle last season was Tytus Howard and he had a poor PFF grade of 46.8. Wallace, who played right tackle his entire college career, has lots of experience and has been consistent from the right side the past two seasons.

Nolan Wick: New York Giants, fourth round. Wallace has been a reliable piece of Phil Trautwein’s offensive line for years. New York needs help on the line, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this happened.

Adisa Isaac

CJ Doebler: Atlanta Falcons, second round. I think Isaac is going to get taken in the second round after Robinson gets chosen in the first. The duo was one of the best defensive edge pairs in college football last year, and I think it’s only fitting they go near each other in the draft.

Joe Lister: Atlanta Falcons, second round. Adisa Isaac is an exciting edge rusher prospect, and we’d be talking about him a lot more if he didn’t play across from Robinson and wasn’t fighting for reps with Dani Dennis-Sutton. Isaac could boost the Falcons’ needs at the edge and can be an NFL starter within two years.

Mitch Corcoran: Atlanta Falcons, second round. The Falcons desperately need pass rushers. The team’s two sack leaders last season were Bud Dupree and Calais Campbell with 6.5 and they are both currently free agents. Isaac brings a strong edge presence, and he gets to reunite with former Penn State teammate Arnold Ebiketie.

Nolan Wick: Washington Commanders, second round. Like the Falcons, Washington desperately needs help at edge rusher and currently has two early second-round picks. Isaac should be one of the best available at that position in what is perceived to be a weak class, so my guess is the new regime will strike while the iron is hot on the long-term replacement for Chase Young and Montez Sweat.

Curtis Jacobs

CJ Doebler: Cleveland Browns, sixth round. Jacobs had a good last year with the Nittany Lions, but it wasn’t anything special. Still, I think he’ll hear his name called in the later rounds of the draft and head to the AFC North next season.

Joe Lister: Seattle Seahawks, seventh round. I’m not super high on Curtis Jacobs, but he’s certainly NFL Draft-worthy. The Seahawks’ front seven is a bit up in the air right now, so Jacobs may slide in as a player they feel can be a good backup option.

Mitch Corcoran: Buffalo Bills, fourth round. Buffalo runs a 4-3 defense like Penn State does and the Bills are thin at linebacker. Jacobs has decent size and athleticism and I think he could fit well in Buffalo.

Nolan Wick: Baltimore Ravens, fifth round. I like Curtis Jacobs. He was such a good player for Penn State and he’s athletic enough to be a good NFL player. The Ravens get Jacobs after losing Patrick Queen in free agency.

Alex Felkins

CJ Doebler: Undrafted. There are only a few kicking spots open in the NFL, and I don’t think Felkins has the talent to be one of them. However, I think he at least gets an invite to a minicamp this summer.

Joe Lister: Alex Felkins always knew it was a long shot for him to make the NFL. He’s heard from a few teams, but his numbers just aren’t good enough for a professional contract. Maybe he’ll surprise me, but this is probably another Barney Amor story.

Mitch Corcoran: Undrafted. Not many kickers get drafted and it wasn’t like Felkins was one of the top kickers in the country anyway. However, I think his consistency will land him a spot on a roster as an undrafted free agent.

Nolan Wick: Undrafted. It’s hard to envision Felkins getting drafted. However, he was consistent enough to start for Penn State, which won’t be ignored by teams. He’ll end up somewhere, but he won’t get drafted.

Daequan Hardy

CJ Doebler: Green Bay Packers, seventh round. Hardy has the talent to eventually be a good addition to any NFL team, he just needs a few years to develop first. Without the instant NFL readiness that other cornerbacks may show, I think Hardy slips to the later rounds of the draft.

Joe Lister: Detroit Lions, seventh round. If you’re drafting Daequan Hardy, you’re drafting him as a punt returner more than a cornerback. Hardy’s talented in the secondary, but he’s explosive on special teams.

Mitch Corcoran: Pittsburgh Steelers, sixth round. The Steelers haven’t had a good nickel corner since Mike Hilton. Hardy has the speed and athleticism to play the position well and he has shown himself to be an effective kick returner as well. I like his value late in the draft.

Nolan Wick: Carolina Panthers, seventh round. Hardy is best on special teams. Put him on a weak Panthers squad and he has a chance to be productive.

Keaton Ellis

CJ Doebler: Undrafted. A State College native growing up to play for Penn State before heading to the NFL would be a great story, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Ellis is a good player who has been a consistent presence in the Nittany Lion secondary since he came to campus during the shortened COVID-19 year. Despite his impact, I don’t think Ellis gets drafted.

Joe Lister: Undrafted. I’m sorry, Keaton Ellis. The hometown kid might not be leaving. Ellis was a solid safety for five years, but it’s hard to say he has much to go past college. He could get a UFL or undrafted free agent contract if he wants, but the NFL is just out of reach.

Mitch Corcoran: Undrafted. Ellis has lots of experience and had a good career at Penn State, but he was a rotational player for the most part. He will sign somewhere as an undrafted free agent and I like his odds to make a practice squad.

Nolan Wick: Undrafted. Ellis had a good career, but I don’t think he did enough to get drafted. However, I do think he has a shot to sign somewhere as a free agent.

Trey Potts

CJ Doebler: Undrafted. Potts’ lone year at Penn State showed he’s a versatile back who can aid in any facet of the game. Still, I don’t think he got enough reps to provide a reliable tape as the third man in Happy Valley. I think Potts signs somewhere after the draft, but I don’t think he’ll have his name called this weekend.

Joe Lister: Undrafted. Being a perennial backup for five years, no matter the program, just isn’t going to be good enough for an NFL team. Potts was a solid Penn State running back (and quarterback) but progressing to the next level is a tough shout.

Mitch Corcoran: Undrafted. It’s hard for a guy who was a backup all of his career to be drafted into the NFL. Like the other undrafted Penn State guys, I think he ends up on a practice squad somewhere and fights for a spot on the 53-man roster.

Nolan Wick: Undrafted. I don’t see a career backup being drafted, although he was good when needed. If he doesn’t end up on a practice squad or 53-man roster, there’s always the UFL or the CFL.

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About the Author

Staff

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