Penn State Player Draft Stock
With the 2015 college football season entering its final month, it’s time to start evaluating some of the Nittany Lions who might hear their name called on draft day. Penn State could see any where from one to four players taken in the first round alone, making this season’s draft even more exciting for the fans in Happy Valley.
No. 14 Christian Hackenberg, QB
2015 Stats - 1,787 yards, 13 touchdowns, two interceptions
Despite a drop-off in performance over the past three years, Christian Hackenberg entered the 2015 season widely considered the best quarterback and maybe even the best draft prospect. While the stats may not backup his entire game, Hackenberg has recouped some of his draft stock after a disastrous sophomore season. He’s still highly regarded among scouts with his terrific arm strength and durability. I find it very hard to see Hackenberg falling past the mid-point of the first round in next year's draft.
No. 98 Anthony Zettel, DL
2015 Stats - 36 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble
One of the anchors of the dominating Nittany Lions defensive line, Anthony Zettel carries a late first round grade. He constantly commands double teams from opposing offenses, yet still maintains his presence throughout the play. He’s the kind of defender who can “smell” the ball and always knows where it is. He keeps his shoulders locked in and square to the ball carrier and anticipates plays with ease. Its no wonder Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald was heaping so much praise on him earlier this week.
No. 9 Jordan Lucas, DB
2015 Stats - 53 tackles, one forced fumble
There’s a lot of interesting aspects of Jordan Lucas’s game. He’d be better suited to play free safety over cornerback in the NFL because of his strong tackling ability. Teams will be looking to take Lucas around the fifth round, similar to Adrian Amos last year, as a project player.
No. 5 DaeSean Hamilton, WR
2015 Stats - 28 catches, 370 yards, four touchdowns
DaeSean Hamilton is eligible to leave Penn State after this season, which leaves him in a tricky situation. Should he leave now while scouts still remember his electrifying freshman year or try to develop his game more? The biggest issue with staying in Happy Valley for Hamilton may be having to work with a new quarterback, whom will more than likely fit in Franklin’s spread offense. I’ve always viewed DaeSean Hamilton as one of the more exciting, deep threat receivers in the Big Ten, but at this point he’s not worth more than a fourth round pick to NFL talent evaluators.
No. 95 Carl Nassib, DE
2015 Stats - 42 tackles, 14.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, one interception
Who expected this from a former walk-on? Nassib leads not just Penn State, not just the Big Ten, but the entire country in sacks. That’s a pretty incredible story for a guy just getting his chance to start against big time college athletes. Nassib is currently expected to go somewhere in the third round, but don’t be surprised if he gets taken earlier than that. Another multi-sack game could boost Carl Nassib into the second round, possibly even higher with a good combine.
No. 99 Austin Johnson, DT
2015 Stats - 54 tackles, 4.5 sacks
Johnson is the third key piece to the Penn State defensive line who will hear his name called on draft day. Also widely considered a late first round pick, Johnson is a penetrating defensive tackle who disrupts the run with excellent precision. His awareness and power will help him greatly and make up for his limited motor. While being a pass rusher isn’t his primary skill, he has a sneaky good inside move that will produce in the right situation.
George Stockburger is a junior majoring in journalism with a focus in broadcasting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org