Penn State Football

DE Garrett Sickels goes undrafted but still finds NFL home with Indianapolis Colts

Penn State defensive end Garrett Sickels was not picked in the NFL draft, but he sigpressures Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome during the Saturday, October 8, 2016 game at Beaver Stadium. Penn State won, 38-14.
Penn State defensive end Garrett Sickels was not picked in the NFL draft, but he sigpressures Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome during the Saturday, October 8, 2016 game at Beaver Stadium. Penn State won, 38-14.

Garrett Sickels was forced to endure a seven-hour long Day 3 of the NFL draft — only to walk away without hearing his named called under the bright lights of Philadelphia.

He was one of 28 early entry prospects who went undrafted.

That wasn’t part of Sickels’ plan. But, on Saturday night, his mother announced on Twitter that her son was still heading to the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent. And, on Friday, Sickels sounded as if he would be at peace with whatever transpired during the draft.

“The most important thing I’ve really learned — and it’s something that I learned at the end of last season as well — is just to control what I can control and not worry about anything else that’s out of my realm,” Sickels said on the Steve Jones Show. “I’m just focusing on whatever I can do to be better going into camp this summer and just being patient.”

Sickels was widely regarded as Penn State’s No. 2 prospect, behind third-round pick Chris Godwin, and many draft experts pegged him as a late-round pick, even after posting sub-par numbers at the NFL Combine. ESPN’s Steve Muench went so far as to say last week, matter-of-factly, “He’ll be drafted late.”

His speed and length were called into question, but there were never any doubts about his production. He led all Penn State defensive linemen in tackles (47) last season, in addition to leading the team in tackles-for-loss (12.5) and tying for the lead in sacks (6).

“He’s a high-motor, great effort guy, relentless, a leader with strong hands,” former NFL scout Dan Shonka, who now oversees, told the Centre Daily Times last week. “He’s 6-foot-3, 261 pounds, so he needs to get bigger and stronger. But he’ll work his way into a backup position.”

Other Penn State UDFAs

Although nothing is yet official, linebacker Brandon Bell told 247 sports that he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Defensive end Evan Schwan is reportedly heading to the New York Giants. And safety Malik Golden announced on Instagram that he was heading to the San Francisco 49ers.

“The best birthday present I could ask for, dreams do come true,” Golden wrote. “Can’t wait to go to work.”

Other Penn State players hoping to land on an NFL team — as of press time — include OL Brian Gaia and LB Nyeem Wartman-White, among others.

Former Penn State quarterback Tyler Ferguson, who spent the 2013 season backing up Christian Hackenberg, also reportedly signed with the Tennessee Titans.

Looking ahead to 2018

Next year will be different.

The Nittany Lions saw just one player drafted this year — Godwin (third round, No. 84 overall) by Tampa Bay — but that won’t be the case in the future. In fact, this year is likely the proverbial calm before the storm of draft picks.

In FOX’s way-too-early 2018 mock draft, for example, Saquon Barkley is going to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 8 overall. Granted, those same mock drafts once pegged Hackenberg as the future No. 1 overall pick — but the point is that it’s obvious the Nittany Lions boast a lot of talent on their roster.

Safety Marcus Allen and tight end Mike Gesicki could’ve been drafted this past weekend if they didn’t decide to hang around another year. And they’re essentially locks to be drafted in 2018. And that doesn’t include linebacker Jason Cabinda or a whole host of defensive players who could make impacts as seniors (i.e. Curtis Cothran, Parker Cothren, Christian Campbell).

Godwin speaks as a Buc

Godwin conducted his first-ever interview as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer on Saturday, and he wanted to make one thing clear: He couldn’t be happier.

“I’m proud to be a Buc,” he said. “I can’t wait to get to work.”

Godwin said he spent a “good amount of time” with the Buccaneers’ organization, as they worked him out in Happy Valley and then invited him for a pre-workout visit. But Godwin said he was pleased to join teammate Donovan Smith in Tampa Bay for another reason: The first football team he ever played for, back in his childhood, was also called the Bucs.

Godwin — who caught 59 balls for 982 yards and 11 TDs last season — has now officially come full circle.