Here are 5 Penn State football players who could get selected in the 2022 NFL Draft
Penn State football had six players taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, but could have even more next year.
The extra year of eligibility granted to student-athletes by the NCAA opened the door for seniors who would usually be taken in the draft to come back for another season.
The Nittany Lions — if everything breaks right — could get near double-digit number of players taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. Let's take a look at the five player likeliest to go early in next year's draft, in alphabetical order.
Safety Jaquan Brisker: Brisker, like at least three of the other players on this list, could have left this year and been drafted in the middle rounds.
He's a good all-around safety who can help in the passing game and the running game. Brisker is the type of player NFL teams look to add to their teams because of that ability and should be highly sought after when he exhausts his eligibility after next season.
The senior safety showed his ability in coverage by racking up seven passes defended and six pass breakups while also helping in run support and tallying 57 tackles. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Brisker's name called on Day 2 of next year's draft, with Day 3 at the latest a near guarantee.
Cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields: Castro-Fields has battled injuries the past few seasons with Penn State but could put himself in the Day 2 discussion — like Brisker —with a strong final season.
He's a man coverage corner who can turn and run with opposing wide receivers but struggles with consistency from time to time. He relies on disrupting passes by tracking the wide receivers' eyes and putting his hand between their arms when it appears the ball is arriving.
He's solid in run support, showing some willingness to put his nose in the pile and attack a ball carrier, but is still best off playing in coverage. His size could allow him to move to safety in the NFL, but the possibility of playing either safety or cornerback should be appealing to NFL teams. Castro-Fields could have the most to gain among Penn State's seniors in the upcoming season and could do so just by proving he can stay on the field and be consistent in coverage.
Wideout Jahan Dotson: Fewer players at Penn State improved their draft stock in 2020 more than Dotson.
He could boost his stock even higher by taking the next step in 2021. He had a breakout year in the nine-game season, hauling in 52 passes for 884 yards and eight touchdowns, good for 98.2 yards per game in his third season on campus. He showed the traits that can make a successful NFL wide receiver with the production to back up the film.
Dotson is a refined route runner who makes life difficult for opposing defensive backs with his elite route running and ability to get in and out of his breaks with ease. He sheds corners with sudden movements on those breaks and has the hands to make even the best highlight reel catches. His ability to get open and big play ability should translate to the next level and could entice a team to take him in the second or third round.
Defensive end Adisa Isaac: Isaac fits a similar profile to the one Odafe Oweh had prior to going No. 31 in the 2021 NFL Draft.
While he's not quite the athletic freak Oweh is, he's still an elite athlete for the position. Isaac can beat his opponents with speed and athleticism and uses his long arms to disrupts offensive tackles when they try to get their hands on him. He didn't hit high levels of production in 2020 as a pass rusher but could be in for a breakout season in 2021. Isaac is the player who — while likely not on the radar now — could put himself firmly on the NFL radar with a high-level season.
He doesn't have the safe floor of the previous three players, but Isaac could reasonably break out and find himself in the Day 1 discussion in the 2022 NFL Draft. He's a long way away from that right now — and is also an easy candidate to return for the 2022 season — but his upside is tantalizing and should put him on the NFL radar.
Offensive tackle Rasheed Walker: Walker could have been drafted this year if he had left after the 2020 season, but returning for the 2021 season could make him the highest Nittany Lion drafted in 2022.
He has nearly every trait NFL teams want in a starting left tackle. He has long arms and a powerful base with improving technique that continues to be refined under offensive line coach Phil Trautwein. Walker — unlike many college left tackles — should be able to stay at the position in the next level because of his length and athleticism.
That should help boost his stock, which should already be high because of his talent. Walker isn't the flashiest name on this list, but right now he's the most likely to hear his name called in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.