Penn State Football: 10 Predictions for the Nittany Lions Taken in NFL Draft

Kevin McGuire@KevinOnCFBAnalyst IIMay 4, 2011

Penn State Football: 10 Predictions for the Nittany Lions Taken in NFL Draft

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    Penn State's Evan Royster could be a factor for the Washington Redskins.
    Penn State's Evan Royster could be a factor for the Washington Redskins.Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Penn State had just two players drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, with offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski being selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round and running back Evan Royster being drafted in the sixth round by the Washington Redskins.

    With the future of the NFL still in question, it remains to be seen just how long it will be until either of these players gets to work on making an impact on their new team.

    Will either of these players play in a Pro Bowl or Super Bowl?

    Obviously at this stage it is impossible to tell what could happen. Injuries in the first preseason game could just as quickly turn either of these players into a disappointment, just as an injury to another player could make the role of Wisniewski or Royster that much more important in Oakland or Washington (or somewhere else).

    Here now are 10 predictions for Wisniewski, Royster, or both as their NFL careers begin.


    Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Follow his college football discussion on Twitter        @CFBExaminer.

Stefen Wisniewski Will Be a Fixture in Oakland

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    Stefen Wisniewski (61) will be a dependable player in Oakland.
    Stefen Wisniewski (61) will be a dependable player in Oakland.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Just as his uncle Stephen was, Stefen Wisniewski is going to enjoy a long career in the NFL and it will happen mostly in Oakland with the team that drafted him. Having his uncle as an offensive line coach certainly won't hurt Stefen's chances of jumping right in on the offensive line as early as possible.

Evan Royster's Career Will See Multiple Homes

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    Evan Royster may bounce around a bit.
    Evan Royster may bounce around a bit.Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Royster has a more challenging road ahead of him than Wisniewski.

    A running back drafted in the sixth round rarely sticks with the team that drafted him for very long. Throw in the fact that Royster was Washington's second running back drafted and there is already a blend of young backs looking to compete for playing time, and the future is bleak for Royster in the short run.

    This is why Royster will be more likely to play in multiple cities—looking for playing time—during his NFL career. Royster's injury history is pretty good for NFL teams and his blocking and ball protection will keep him on the NFL radar if things do not work out in Washington.

Wisniewski Will Play in Multiple Pro Bowls

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    COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 25: Stefen Wisniewski #61 and Andrew Dailey #13 of the Penn State Nittany Lions get congratulations from fans as they head to the locker room after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 13-6 on October 25, 2008 at Ohio Stadium in Columb
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Consider it a family legacy.

    His uncle, Steve, played in eight Pro Bowls during his NFL career and was named to the All-Decade team for the 1990s by the NFL. Stefen enters the NFL with similar hype in terms of offensive line potential. It would seem the odds are pretty decent of him playing in at least two Pro Bowls during his career, although he is a little bit undersized compared to some other offensive linemen in the NFL.

Wisniewski and Royster Will Each Start in 2011*

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    STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Tailback Evan Royster #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions runs the ball against the Oregon State Beavers at Beaver Stadium on September 6, 2008 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    As a second round draft pick, Wisniewski will enter the league with an expectation that he will be a starting offensive lineman at some point or another. As long as he stays healthy, and assuming there is a full 16-game NFL schedule to be played, the odds are very good that Wisniewski will start at least one game this season.

    The quest to start a game will be considerably more challenging for Royster with a cluster of running backs hoping to be starting games in the nation's capital. But the Redskins have seen their share of injuries in the backfield in recent years and who is to say this year will be much different? Washington may have more of a running back by committee in 2011, but Royster could play a role if he can stay on with the team. Starting one game, even if by a technicality, is entirely possible.

Royster Will Never Rush for 1,000 Yards

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    STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Running back Evan Royster #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions runs for a touchdown followed by Mikhail Marinovich (54) and Max Suter #24 of the Syracuse Orangemen during the first half at Beaver Stadium  September 12, 20
    Chris Gardner/Getty Images

    Penn State running backs have generally been cursed in the NFL.

    Other than guys like Franco Harris and Larry Johnson it has been mostly miss before hit when it comes to success in the NFL among Penn State running backs.

    Considering Royster is often regarded as one of the least talented pro running backs in the NFL from Penn State, it would not be a surprise to see Royster—Penn State's all-time leading rusher—fail to record a 1,000 yard rushing season.

    Royster's failure to eclipse 1,000 yards will not be solely on his own shoulders. Poor offensive line play in Washington will be a major hurdle to overcome for any running back.

Royster Will Not Be a Bust, but He Won't Be Larry Johnson

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    Curtis Enis was a bust. Royster will not be.
    Curtis Enis was a bust. Royster will not be.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Will Royster join the ranks of guys like Larry Johnson, Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell? No, but he won't be another Curtis Enis, Ki-Jana Carter or Tony Hunt either.

    All three of those guys fizzled out for different reasons.

    Carter had a promising career ahead of him after being drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, but an early knee injury held him back in a big way. Enis had a short career in the NFL with just under 1,500 career yards and four touchdowns before ultimately being forced into early retirement due to a degenerative left knee. And Hunt struggled to adjust to the pro game with the Philadelphia Eagles after a little more than one season on the roster.

    Royster has more going for him in terms of what he can provide to an offense.

    Hunt and Enis struggled in the blocking game and Royster is a little better at that. Blocking and protecting the ball will keep Royster in the league longer than Enis and Hunt, making his professional career more successful as a result.

Mike Shanahan Will Give Royster a Chance to Grow

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    Mike Shanahan will stick with Royster.
    Mike Shanahan will stick with Royster.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan knows a thing or two about developing running backs. His track record dating back to Denver speaks for itself.

    Washington drafted Nebraska's Roy Helu ahead of Royster but the team would not have wasted a pick on Royster if Shanahan didn't think he could have something to work with.

    Unless he truly fails to grasp Shanahan's offense, don't count on seeing Royster cut any time too soon, although as previously stated, look for Royster to see multiple home towns during his career. Shanahan's guidance could help Royster develop in to a quality backup player for another franchise.

Royster Will Be One of Ryan Torian's Backups

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    Ryan Torain (48) is still the top back in Washington.
    Ryan Torain (48) is still the top back in Washington.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    In addition to competing with Roy Helu for a roster spot in Washington, Evan Royster will aim to win a starting job—against all odds—against the Redskins' leading rusher from 2010, Ryan Torain. Torain is entering his third season in the NFL and played in 10 games, rushing for 742 yards and four touchdowns.

    Torain may be the top running back in Washington, but the position will see a wide open competition once training camp eventually opens.

Wisniewski Will Be a Starting Center

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    At Penn State, Stefen Wisniewski took on the role of center and guard. In Oakland, Wisniewski will be given a shot to compete for the starting center job right away, and it would be a surprise to see him lose that battle.

    This goes along with the prediction that Wisniewski will start at least one game in 2011. If he wins the starting job at center, expect Wisniewski to start many more games than one.

Wisniewski and Royster Will Represent Penn State Well

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    Evan Royster is a class act.
    Evan Royster is a class act.Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Though their careers may have different levels of success on the field, there will be little doubt that Wisniewski and Royster will represent Penn State well in the NFL, just as Joe Paterno would probably like to see it.

    Both players leave Penn State as some of the most accomplished players at their positions in program history, and both have put together college careers that can be looked back on without regrets. Neither player was one you would read about in a negative light in terms of off-field issues. Wisniewski excelled in the classroom and on the offensive line. Royster leaves as the program's all-time leading rusher.

    Now they take their games to the next level and hope to duplicate that success in the NFL.


    Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Follow his college football discussion on Twitter        @CFBExaminer.