The 2019 NFL draft is fast approaching, as it will now start in a little over a week — from April 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn. So, of course, there’s a natural question for Penn State fans: Where will the Nittany Lions go?
Just like we did last week, we scoured every major and recent NFL mock draft to gauge the hype around each Penn State prospect. Some players were divisive; others had a clear consensus.
All of the mock drafts included below are from April 8 or after, with 1-2 exceptions that are noted in the blurbs. Do any analysts believe in Trace McSorley? Can Amani Oruwariye sneak into the first round, and where will Miles Sanders go?
Take a look, and keep in mind that some mock drafts also reflect mock trades so the teams might draft at slightly different spots in some cases:
RB Miles Sanders
No. 55 overall (second round) to Houston Texans (Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell): Why pick a running back so early? According to Campbell, it’s about Bill O’Brien having to make up for a past mistake. Campbell writes, “Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, long-time Texans scout Ed Lambert raved to me about David Johnson and how he wanted the Texans to land him. Bill O’Brien, however, demanded the Texans take Jaelen Strong instead of Johnson in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. As a result of O’Brien’s mistake, the Texans still need a long-term running back.” Thanks to Sanders’ performance at the NFL Combine, he seems like a strong possibility.
No. 55 overall (second round) to Houston Texans (NBC Sports’ Ben Standig): Writes Standig: “There’s a clear backfield need to help if not surpass Lamar Miller. Penn State’s Miles Sanders would make sense for the RB fix after emerging from Saquon Barkley’s shadow last season.”
No. 61 overall (second round) to Kansas City Chiefs (ESPN’s Todd McShay): This is an “ideal” mock draft where McShay essentially plays the role of GM. And McShay is high on Sanders, referring to him as “powerful and patient.” And, with Kareem Hunt’s off-field trouble and subsequent release, the Chiefs are in the market for another back.
No. 66 overall (second round) to Pittsburgh Steelers (YardBarker’s Seth Trachtman): Trachtman writes: “While James Conner and Jaylen Samuels filled in nicely for Le’Veon Bell last season, Sanders could provide even more explosiveness.”
No. 74 overall (second round) to Buffalo Bills (Walter Football’s Walter Cherepinsky): LeSean McCoy isn’t getting any younger, and the Bills need someone to share the load immediately — while maybe even grooming a starter for the future. Writes Cherepinsky: “Miles Sanders had a great combine performance, running a 4.49 and leaping 10-foot-4 on the broad jump. He was great in the drills as well.”
No. 77 overall (third round) to Carolina Panthers (The Athletic’s Dane Brugler): Christian McCaffrey is obviously the man in Carolina, but the Panthers could always use some depth at the position. Other analysts have commented on Sanders’ hands, so that versatility should allow Sanders to give McCaffrey a breather when needed.
No. 81 overall (third round) to Minnesota Vikings (ESPN’s Mel Kiper): Kiper notes here that this mock draft is a reflection of his rankings and not necessarily a reflection of what he thinks NFL teams will do. Kiper writes, “Running back might not stick out as an priority for Minnesota, but Dalvin Cook has struggled to stay on the field. Sanders would be a great No. 2 back, and he has limited tread on his tires after sitting behind Saquon Barkley for his first two college seasons.”
No. 87 overal (third round) to Chicago Bears (CBS Sports’ RJ White): Chicago doesn’t have any picks in the first two rounds, thanks to last season’s trade for Khalil Mack, so Sanders would be the Bears’ very first pick in 2019. Writes White: “With their one Day 2 pick, they take advantage of running backs sliding down the board to land a good one in Sanders, who is a much more versatile running mate for Tarik Cohen in the backfield. He has the potential to carry the load if called upon down the road.”
No. 101 overall (third round) to New England Patriots (Draft Site): The Patriots collect running backs like baseball cards, but Sanders would likely have to work hard here to see significant time as a rookie.
No. 127 overall (fourth round) to Philadelphia Eagles (Draft Tek): Philadelphia fans would love this move ... but it’d be a surprise if Sanders lasted this long.
CB Amani Oruwariye
No. 24 overall (first round) to Oakland Raiders (Pro Football Focus): This mock draft hasn’t been updated since April 4, but we wanted to include it because it still reflects PFF’s newest cornerback rankings. PFF has been high on Oruwariye since last season and, on Tuesday, it ranked Oruwariye as the fifth-best cornerback prospect in the draft. In their earlier mock draft, they have him as the fourth CB selected, one pick before another CB. PFF’s analysis team wrote: “Positional value makes a reach here for a cornerback … Oruwariye had the best one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl.”
No. 47 overall (second round) to Carolina Panthers (Draft Site): This outlet actually moved Oruwariye up one spot from last week, when it had Oruwariye going to the Miami Dolphins at No. 48. Carolina has a clear need for defensive backs, although it’ll likely need slot corners most in addition to safeties.
No. 48 overall (second round) to Cincinnati Bengals (Draft Tek): Analyst Kennedy Paynter writes, “Amani Oruwariye is a polarizing defensive back, as his traits outmatch his production from Penn State. ... If the right team drafts him, Oruwariye could be a steal in the second round, and the Bengals have traditionally been one of the most zone-heavy teams in the NFL.”
No. 49 overall (second round) to Cleveland Browns (Walter Football’s Walter Cherepinsky): Cleveland certainly seems set in terms of offensive playmakers, so Cherepinsky believes the Browns will aim to strengthen up their secondary early on. “The Browns hit a home run with Denzel Ward last year,” Cherepinsky wrote. “They’ll need to find a solid starter to play across from him.”
No. 50 overall (second round) to Minnesota Vikings (NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund): This is an analytics-based mock draft based simply on the premise of teams picking who would help them pick up more wins in 2019. For Minnesota, although there are other needs, that means taking Oruwariye on Day 2.
No. 61 overall (second round) to Kansas City Chiefs (Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell): In September, Campbell helped survey NFL scouts on what college prospects impressed them during fall camp — “and Oruwariye was one of players mentioned.” As Campbell also notes, “The Chiefs could use multiple corners to go with Kendall Fuller.”
No. 69 overall (third round) to Jacksonville Jaguars (YardBarker’s Seth Trachtman): The Jags need a safety more than a cornerback. But, at this point in the draft, they could be looking ahead a little bit. Writes Trachtman: “Entering his fourth season Jalen Ramsey is set for a huge payday soon, and that might not coming from Jacksonville. ... He (Oruwariye) could be Ramsey’s replacement in 2020.”
No. 75 overall (third round) to Kansas City Chiefs (CBS Sports’ RJ White): White calls Oruwariye “a big, physical corner” who will “push for a starting role immediately on the outside.”
No. 78 overall (third round) to Miami Dolphins (ESPN’s Todd McShay): This is an “ideal” mock draft where McShay essentially plays the role of GM. And McShay writes: “Oruwariye has the potential to become an effective press corner for a unit that doesn’t have much behind Xavien Howard.”
No. 93 overall (third round) to New York Jets (ESPN’s Mel Kiper): Like McShay, Kiper notes here that this mock draft is a reflection of his rankings and not necessarily a reflection of what he thinks NFL teams will do. Regardless, he still liked the Jets taking Oruwariye at this point in the draft. He writes, “Oruwariye is a big, 6-foot-2 corner who had seven interceptions over the past two seasons. You can’t count on third-rounders as immediate starters, but (fellow third-round pick Michael) Deiter and Oruwariye could compete for spots.”
No. 94 overall (third round) to Los Angeles Rams (The Athletic’s Dane Brugler): Every corner on the roster is the final year of his contract, so the need here is obvious. With Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, the Rams may not need immediate help — but Los Angeles knows it needs to build for the future. And Oruwariye is a quality pick at this point.
OG/OC Connor McGovern
No. 51 overall (second round) to Tennessee Titans (NFL.com’s Chad Reuter/Lance Zierlein): This mock draft outlined the ideal top-two picks for each team, and the pair had McGovern as the first Nittany Lion drafted. They wrote: “McGovern gives the Titans a starting guard or center candidate — he’s worn both hats.”
No. 76 overall (third round) to Washington Redskins (Walter Football’s Walter Cherepinsky): McGovern’s versatility has piqued a lot of teams’ interest. Writes Cherepinsky: “The Redskins have one of the worst centers in the NFL, so that’s a position they’ll sorely need to upgrade. They also need help at guard, so why not draft a player who can play all three interior offensive line positions?”
No. 76 overall (third round) to Washington Redskins (Draft Tek): Again, this pick makes sense for a lot of reasons — most of which center around the fact that Washington needs loads of help on the interior.
No. 79 overall (third round) to Atlanta Falcons (ESPN’s Mel Kiper): Kiper notes here that this mock draft is a reflection of his rankings and not necessarily a reflection of what he thinks NFL teams will do. Still, Kiper believes the Falcons would keep McGovern at guard, and not move him to center.
No. 84 overall (third round) to Seattle Seahawks (Draft Site): Interior offensive line isn’t a glaring need for the Seahawks — they could certainly use an edge rusher — but McGovern would be a welcome addition. He’d likely take on a backup role here his rookie season.
No. 88 overall (third round) to Detroit Lions (CBS Sports’ RJ White): White believes McGovern “could very well start immediately” for Detroit.
No. 89 overall (third round) to Indianapolis Colts (YardBarker’s Seth Trachtman): Trachtman writes: “The Colts could use more interior offensive line depth, and McGovern (not to be confused with the Broncos offensive lineman by the same name) has the versatility to play either guard or center.”
No. 92 overall (third round) to Kansas City Chiefs (The Athletic’s Dane Brugler): At this point in the draft, teams tend to look closer at value — and McGovern can wear a lot of hats on the offensive line. At worst, he’ll provide some quality depth.
EDGE Shareef Miller
No. 102 overall (third round) to Baltimore Ravens (Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell): The Ravens need depth when it comes to the pass-rush, and Campbell identifies Miller as a potential “sleeper who ends up being a nice value pick.” Campbell writes, “He is an intriguing player and has some talent.”
No. 148 overall (fifth round) to Denver Broncos (Draft Site): Vic Fangio likes his pass-rushers and, although there’s no huge need at this position, Miller has the potential to contribute in a limited role.
No. 157 overall (fifth round) to Baltimore Ravens (CBS Sports’ RJ White): Baltimore needs a pass rush, and that’s something Miller should be able to provide.
No. 174 overall (sixth round) to Arizona Cardinals (Draft Tek): This outlet has Miller as the top pick of the sixth round. Granted, Draft Tek thinks this is a bit of a reach — but the Cardinals are in need of a better pass rush.
No. 201 overall (sixth round) to Kansas City Chiefs (Walter Football’s Walter Cherepinsky): There’s no doubt the Chiefs are in search of some defensive linemen. Writes Cherepinsky: “The Chiefs need a new edge rusher with Justin Houston gone, so up to three picks could be used on edge rushers.”
No. 213 overall (sixth round) to Cincinnati Bengals (The Athletic’s Dane Brugler): There are a number of pressing needs for the Bengals, but that’s why they’ll likely invest a first-round pick on a top-tier linebacker or safety. After addressing issues at offensive line and possibly quarterback, Cincinnati will be drafting for value. And Miller is a sleeper.
OG Ryan Bates
No. 123 overall (fourth round) to Baltimore Ravens (Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell): Baltimore needs to build a better offense around QB Lamar Jackson. And, although the priority should be wide receiver, the Ravens should look to add some blocking depth on Day 3 of the NFL draft. That’s where Bates comes in.
No. 148 overall (fifth round) to Denver Broncos (Walter Football’s Walter Cherepinsky): This is a position of need, and Bates provides some good value here. Writes Cherepinsky: “The Broncos could stand to add multiple offensive linemen, even in the wake of the Ja’Wuan James acquisition.”
No. 221 overall (seventh round) to Cleveland Browns (The Athletic’s Dane Brugler): Cleveland needs help at offensive line. The Browns are still searching for a replacement for OG Kevin Zeitler and, although last year’s second-round pick is the favorite to fill those shoes, any late-round player who can push him or just provide depth would be a plus.
Undrafted (CBS Sports’ RJ White): The final OL he has selected in the draft is NC State’s Tyler Jones.
Undrafted (Draft Site): Other notable offensive guards not to be drafted, according to this outlet, include Notre Dame’s Alex Bars and Michigan’s Jon Runyan.
Undrafted (Draft Tek): The outlet moved Bates up considerably in their player rankings from last week, but it still seems as if they’re overlooking the Penn State prospect. He’s ranked No. 303 overall on their big board.
DT Kevin Givens
No. 164 overall (fifth round) to Indianapolis Colts (Walter Football’s Walter Cherepinsky): It’s no secret where the Colts need help on defense. Writes Cherepinsky: “The Colts need to find multiple pieces in an attempt to improve their lackluster pass rush.”
Undrafted (Draft Site): Other defensive tackles to go undrafted, according to this outlet, will be Michigan’s Kenny Bigelow Jr., Maryland’s Byron Cowart, Nebraska’s Darrion Daniels and Purdue’s Lorenzo Neal.
Undrafted (Draft Tek): The outlet actually dropped Givens 15 spots in their player rankings from last week. Givens is now at No. 328 overall.
Undrafted (CBS Sports’ RJ White): The final DL he has being selected in the NFL draft is Texas A&M’s Landis Durham.
QB Trace McSorley
Undrafted (Draft Site): Other notable QBs to go undrafted, according to this outlet, will include Purdue’s David Blough, Washington State’s Gardner Minshew and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald.
Undrafted (Draft Tek): McSorley moved up 12 spots from last week’s player rankngs and now stands at No. 297 overall. With 254 overall picks in the NFL draft, that obviously puts him on the bubble.
Undrafted (CBS Sports’ RJ White): White has 14 quarerbacks being drafted, but McSorley is not one of them. The last signal-caller he has being selected is Central Connecticut State’s Jacob Dolegala.