Penn State Football

Analyzing how Penn State’s prospects fared in the 2019 NFL draft: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The 2019 NFL draft came and went, and mock drafts are already up for next year’s circus. But let’s take a look back at and reflect on Penn State’s weekend, shall we?

Six Penn State players — Miles Sanders, Connor McGovern, Shareef Miller, Amani Oruwariye, Trace McSorley and Nick Scott — heard their names called. Several Nittany Lions didn’t, namely offensive lineman Ryan Bates and defensive tackle Kevin Givens.

Here are a few thoughts on the Nittany Lions’ destinations and decisions.

Good

  • McSorley, the Baltimore Ravens’ newest QB, could not have landed in a better spot. A lot of Penn State fans from Philadelphia wanted him with the Eagles. But sitting behind Carson Wentz in an inventive, yet undeniably pass-first offense wouldn’t have done anything for McSorley. He likely wouldn’t have seen the field. Frankly, he would have had a hard time making the roster. That’s why Philly went with Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson in the fifth round, a more traditional, pro-style signal-caller. And that’s why Baltimore snagged McSorley — a backup to Lamar Jackson who can use his legs and arm in subpackages, at the very least.
  • Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman called Penn State running back Miles Sanders “a perfect fit” for Philadelphia’s scheme, and he may have a point. Sanders brings a balance to the Eagles’ offense, one Philly didn’t have before in its backfield. Even though Sanders wasn’t often used as a pass-catcher at Penn State — he had only 24 catches for 139 yards in 2018 — Philadelphia sees the former five-star stud as an Alvin Kamara type of player that stretches defenses and takes advantage of being in space. It’ll be interesting to see how Sanders grows as a do-it-all back — because the Eagles are counting on him to do so.
  • Positionally, Shareef Miller might have been a better fit in Seattle. The Seahawks run a 4-3/3-4 hybrid front, in which Miller could have played both traditional pass-rusher and edge linebacker. But situationally, Miller struck gold. He’s going home to Philadelphia, where he can continue his quest to be a role model for those in the Frankford neighborhood. And he’ll play, too. Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett will start at end, and Vinny Curry ought to see the field frequently. But Miller’s motor and effort in chasing down the quarterback should be used in a rotational role — assuming the fourth-round pick makes the roster and Chris Long retires. Both of those appear to be matters of when, not if.
  • No one — from mock drafts to national media to local reporters — thought that Nick Scott was going to get drafted. But maybe everyone should have recognized the Pro Day he had. Maybe we should have remembered his 4.43-second 40-yard dash and 41-inch vertical, which would have ranked sixth and third, respectively, among defensive backs at the Combine if he had been invited. Which he wasn’t. Because the former high school quarterback-turned-running back recruit-turned starting Big Ten safety was overlooked. But the Rams saw something they liked in the two-time captain. So Sean McVay and Los Angeles brass used a seventh-round pick on Scott, in hopes he can develop as a special teams ace and reserve DB. The Rams probably could have waited until the free agency frenzy to secure Scott’s signature. Instead, they made certain, giving Scott the moment no one thought he’d get.

Bad

  • Amani Oruwariye found an ideal franchise. As Scouts Inc. expert Steve Muench told the CDT before the draft, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia could “make the most of what (Oruwariye) does well.” Only problem is, Oruwariye went to Detroit in the fifth round — two or three rounds later than everyone expected. And he’ll feel it in his wallet. Oruwariye’s contract hasn’t been signed yet, but here are a few from last year to consider. After the 2018 NFL draft, second-round cornerback MJ Stewart signed a four-year deal worth $5.1 million with the Buccaneers. Third-round corner Rashaan Gaulden inked a four-year deal worth $3.5 million with the Panthers. And Illinois State corner Davontae Harris — a fifth-round selection at No. 151 overall — signed for four years, $2.7 million with Cincinnati. Door No. 3 is what Oruwariye — the No. 146 selection — is looking at. By falling from the second and third round, the corner missed out on $1.5-2.5 million. He landed in the right spot, which is what ultimately matters for a fifth-round pick. But that’s unfortunate.

Ugly

  • According to The Athletic’s Max Olson, 144 underclassmen declared early for the NFL draft, and 49 did not hear their names called over the weekend. Penn State offensive lineman Ryan Bates and defensive tackle Kevin Givens were among those 49. Bates was expected go in the fourth or fifth round, while Muench had Givens pegged as a fifth-round selection. Now, Bates and Givens found homes as undrafted free agents. The former is in Philadelphia, where he can earn a backup role on the interior line, while the latter will move west to join the San Francisco 49ers. Still, leaving early and not getting drafted will cause people to question their initial decisions — and question the growing trend of underclassmen leaving early.
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