NFL Landing Spots for Penn State Players
The 2017 NFL Draft will be taking place April 27-29 at the Philadelphia Art Museum in downtown Philadelphia. While just over 250 players will be selected among the 32 NFL franchises, most experts are predicting at least two Penn State players will be selected. Chris Godwin and Garrett Sickels are expected to be selected, but there has been discussion of other Penn Staters being chosen. Nyeem Wartman-White, Evan Schwan, Malik Golden, Brandon Bell, and Brian Gaia have all been discussed as potential late-round targets or undrafted free agent targets by various NFL teams. Without further ado, let's take a look at where each player might end up, while also assessing the chances that a team takes a late-round flyer on some of the other Penn State players.
Coming off a tremendous 2016 season that saw Godwin catch 59 passes for 982 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016. Of those, nine catches for a whopping 187 yards and two touchdowns came from his incredible performance in the Rose Bowl vs. USC. His ability to go up for the jump ball is what gives the 6-1, 209 pound receiver a unique upside not seen with many other receivers in this draft class. One of the few Penn State wideouts to produce under both Hackenberg and McSorley, many are expecting him to be taken off the board in rounds 2-3. His speed (4.42 40-yard dash at the Combine) is notable, and his versatility allows him to play outside or in the slot. He has already visited with the Buccaneers, Steelers, and Saints, according to Sporting News. He is rumored to have planned visits with the Lions, Ravens, Jets, Eagles, and Titans prior to the draft. Needless to say, his stock is skyrocketing.
The defensive end made a great leap forward in his junior year in 2016, being named second-team All-Big Ten. He made 47 tackles to go with 12.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Sickels’ intensity is noted as he plays tough in any situation. He doesn’t have the explosiveness, but he does have the elusiveness to make plays. He surprised many by declaring for the draft, as PennLive noted that Sickels made the decision by himself without consultation with friends or family. The 6-3, 261-pound Sickels decided to skip his senior season and attend the NFL Combine. His numbers weren’t great in Indianapolis, but he improved upon them at his pro day. Sickels ran a 4.9 40 time at the combine, but dropped to a 4.7 on his pro day. His broad jump and vertical also improved from a 105-inch broad jump to a 113-in one, and from a 28-in vertical to a 33-in one. Bleacher Report and USA Today have both reported interest from the Jets and Steelers respectively. Most experts project him being taken on Day 2, between rounds 4-6.
Of the other eligible Penn State players for the draft, Bell likely stands the best chance to be picked up on an NFL roster, but Gaia has also gained stock over the last few weeks for teams that need offensive line help. Schwan and Golden have not gained too much attention recently, and Wartman-White has not been rumored to be in conversation with any teams as of late. Bell has visited with the Eagles, Giants, and Jets, and is projected as a round 6-7 pick. He could be a great late pick for a team that needs inebacker help.
Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Zach Kaplan is a senior broadcast journalism major with a double minor in history and sociology. Beyond his work with the Centre County Report, Zach is involved with CommRadio as a sports director and on-air personality, as well as a broadcaster for BTN Student U productions on-campus. He also works with 46Live both on-air and as a producer to provide live coverage of Penn State’s annual Dance Marathon.
Outside of his on-air work, Zach writes for Penn State Athletics covering men’s hockey and lacrosse and has held summer internships with Israel Sports Radio, the Cape Cod Baseball League, and the Coastal Plain League.