Penn State Football: 5 Nittany Lions Who Will Find Success in the NFL
One of the positives of having Bill O'Brien as the head coach at Penn State is thought to be his knowledge of what it takes to play in the NFL. Penn State has sent hundreds of players to the NFL of course, and more figure to come in the next few years despite being hit with NCAA sanctions.
So who are some of the players on the roster now who can look to play on Sundays?
Despite some recent transfers, Penn State still has some NFL talent worth watching this season, and it is strong on the defensive side of the football. We recently took a stab at predicting which players are destined for solid NFL careers, and most of that remains true with the exception of one particular slide.
Here is a ranking of which Penn State players have the best odds to make it in the NFL.
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Another linebacker figuring to make a push for some NFL consideration is Michael Mauti, although his injury history may have a negative impact on his stock when being evaluated by NFL scouts. Separate ACL injuries to both knees have slowed him down some, but his overall tackling abilities still shine through and command respect from NFL scouts.
Mauti has played outside linebacker for Penn State and is projected to take an outside position this fall, but if he is going to play in the NFL, it will probably have to come on the inside, where his relative lack of speed will not be quite as exploited. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Mauti might be able to play at a level similar to the likes of Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor or Sean Lee, but with his injury problems in the past, teams will likely be a little more concerned with him.
Optimum Scouting has Mauti ranked fifth among inside linebackers.
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He flies under the radar, as most offensive linemen tend to do, but center Matt Stankiewitch could find a living in the NFL with his continued ability to be a dependable lineman. There is not much to gloss over when it comes to what he can do on the field. He is a solid blocker and handles the football about as well as you can ask from a center.
Will he a Pro Bowl player? Perhaps not, but if there is one offensive lineman who can last a while in the NFL on this team, it is Stankiewitch.
Optimum Scouting currently does not have Stankiewitch ranked in any of their offensive line rankings for 2013.
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Penn State may be known as Linebacker U to many, but its history on the defensive line is worth respecting as well. A season after Devon Still showed what a beast he can be, Jordan Hill is expected to be the next in line in the trenches for the Nittany Lions.
He has already earned a good amount of respect for his own skills, having taken over on the line as Still was hampered by nagging injuries down the stretch last fall.
Hill may not be quite up to par with Still at his finest, but his ability to break through the line and penetrate the offensive backfield is quite a spectacle. Should he get off on the right foot against some solid running offenses in September, Hill should continue to be considered among the elite defensive tackles in the nation.
Optimum Scouting ranks Hill fifth among all defensive tackles.
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Adrian Amos is a year away form starting to be evaluated strongly for NFL potential, but if there is one sophomore on the roster that will start turning some NFL eyes in 2012, it might be him. Although with recent offensive departures, there will be opportunities for young offensive weapons as well.
Amos is a flexible defensive back capable of playing the safety positions. In fact, his ability to switch in and out between secondary positions has been giving Penn State some options to experiment with for the upcoming season.
Expect to see plenty of Amos this season, and do not be surprised if he sees time at various positions in the defensive backfield.
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There is little question which player could have the highest NFL draft stock this fall on Penn State's roster. Linebacker Gerald Hodges flirted with the idea of leaving after last season for the NFL but decided to come back for one more year on the field to help raise his overall value.
With the NFL on hold after a solid season leading Penn State's defense, Hodges will enter the 2012 season with some preseason accolades and mentions on various watch lists, which means that people are watching him closely.
Of course, playing the signature position of Penn State's football program will help bring in some more focus as the season goes, regardless of NCAA sanctions and the inability to compete for a conference title or bowl game.
Optimum Scouting ranks Hodges fourth among outside linebackers.
Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast, managing editor of Nittany Lions Den and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.