Penn State Football: Power Ranking the Best Nittany Lions in the NFL Right Now

Colin Tansits@@colin_tansitsContributor IMay 29, 2013

Penn State Football: Power Ranking the Best Nittany Lions in the NFL Right Now

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    Penn State football has a long tradition of success on the field and of forming college kids into solid professionals.

    Players such as Lavar Arrington, Jack Ham, John Cappalletti and Mike Munchak are only a small part of a long list of players that have found success at the top level.

    In recent years Penn State has continued to turn out players into top talent.

    Whether it was Aaron Maybin in the first round in 2009 or Matt McGloin signing as an undrafted free agent this year, former Nittany Lions are getting their turns in the NFL.

    So of the current players in the NFL from Penn State, who’s the best?

    Stay tuned, Penn State faithful, because here’s a list power ranking the top eight former Nittany Lions currently in the National Football League.

8. Sean Lee, Linebacker

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    Throughout both his college and professional careers, Sean Lee has been nagged by injuries.

    After a rough rookie season with the Cowboys in 2010, Lee bounced back in 2011 with 105 total tackles and four interceptions.

    Lee looked like he was going to be a key to Dallas’ future and help lead a defense that lacked a leader up the middle.

    But in 2012 Lee managed to play in only six games for the Cowboys, picking up 58 tackles.

    Lee is a smart athletic linebacker built from that mold that Paul Posluszny formed during his time in Happy Valley.

    Injuries have hampered Lee’s career so far, and thus pushed him to the bottom of this list.

7. Paul Posluszny, Linebacker

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    During his time in Happy Valley, Paul Posluszny was an absolute stud.

    In both 2005 and 2006 Posluszny was an All-American, an Academic All-American and the linebacker was selected to the first team All-Big Ten.

    “Pos” as he was called, won the Dick Butkus Award in 2005, and the Chuck Bednarik Award in 2005 and 2006.

    All of these collegiate awards should’ve translated to Pro Bowls and other awards, right?


    In fact Posluszny has played for the Bill and Jaguars, and while still putting up solid numbers, he has only translated into an average NFL linebacker.

    Posluszny is a tough kid and was a fan favorite at Penn State, but for all intents and purposes of this list, he is simply mediocre.

6. Stefen Wisniewski, Center

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    As a three-time ESPN All-American at Penn State, Stefen Wisniewski was an exciting prospect coming out of college.

    The Raiders picked the offensive lineman right up in the second round of the 2011 draft.

    From the time Wisniewski donned the black and grey, he has made an impact.

    As a rookie, Wisniewski started at left guard and helped pave the way for the NFL’s seventh-best rushing team.

    In 2012 Wisniewski moved to center where he again was able to be a key part of the line.

    With only two seasons played in the NFL, Wisniewski is still learning and may have his best years ahead of him.

    The young lineman is very close to moving up to being a Pro Bowl-type lineman.

5. Michael Robinson, Fullback

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    One of the most iconic plays of Michael Robinson’s career at Penn State is when he trucked a Minnesota safety while running out of bounds

    That play alone may have helped seal the fate of Robinson’s future in the NFL.

    When Robinson was drafted in 2006 by the 49ers, he was moved to running back, then eventually fullback.

    Although not the most glorified position in the NFL, that of the fullback is an important one and Robinson seemed to find his niche after signing with the Seahawks in 2010.

    Robinson is used both as a fullback and key special teams contributor, both of which helped him earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2012.

    The Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch is obviously talented, but Robinson has undoubtedly been able to make a positive impact on Lynch in the Seattle running game.

4. Robbie Gould, Kicker

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    Robbie Gould has turned into one of the more dependable kickers in the NFL.

    After going undrafted and being released twice before his rookie season even began in 2005, Gould took some time away from football.

    Three weeks into the 2005 season. the Bears signed Gould after their kicker was injured, and he has never turned back.

    In 2006 Gould was named an All-Pro and was selected to his first Pro Bowl.

    Since then, Gould has managed to have a 85.6 field-goal percentage, with his longest being from 57 yards.

    A kicker isn’t exactly the type of person you normally see toward the top of a list of a school’s best pros, but he really is that good.

    Gould spent most of 2012 on injured reserve, and he will be back for next season.

3. Cameron Wake, Defensive End

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    Cameron Wake’s journey to the NFL wasn’t exactly normal.

    His story is one of a great comeback, where after being undrafted and released by the Giants as a rookie in 2005, Wake was out of football for two years.

    Wake then signed with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, where he became a two-time All-Star in 2007 and 2008.

    The Miami Dolphins signed Wake in 2009, and his impact was almost immediately felt.

    Wake is a two-time Pro Bowler (2010 and 2012) and was named first-team All-Pro in 2012.

    His return to football is truly an inspiring story of re-dedication, and Wake is one of the best former Penn State players in the league today.

2. NaVorro Bowman, Linebacker

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    The combination of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman is arguably one of the best linebacker duos in the National Football League.

    Bowman came out of Penn State as a raw, but athletic linebacker and blossomed into one of the best in the league.

    In 2011 and 2012 Bowman was named first-team All-Pro, and prior to his Super Bowl appearance, Bowman was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2012.

    At 24 years old and four years of experience already, Bowman is on the path to becoming a top linebacker for years to come.

    He is fierce and athletic on the field and has proven that he can play with some of the best offenses in the league.

    For the 49ers, picking up Bowman in the fourth round was quite a steal.

1. Tamba Hali, Defensive End

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    As far as reaching expectations go, Tamba Hali hasn’t disappointed.

    After being picked in the first round by the Chiefs in 2006, Hali took a few years to get his footing in the league.

    Hali’s sack numbers were good, but by 2010 he had made a name for himself.

    The Liberian-born man has been selected to three straight Pro Bowls, all while playing for the lowly Kansas City defense.

    Hali is a dominant defensive end and has a knack for getting to the quarterback, which is something he developed when he was at Penn State (just ask Troy Smith).

    He is a great worker and has earned everything he has gotten in the NFL.

    Right now, Hali is the best former Nittany Lion in professional football, and it looks like that won’t change for at least a few more years.