One of the deepest NFL Draft classes of 2018, in Penn State football, has maintained its success so far. 11 of those 12 former Nittany Lions are on rosters.
A magical two-season run for Penn State football from 2016-2017 meant multiple players would be headed for the NFL – that statement came true in the 2018 NFL Draft. Six players were selected and six other signed onto teams as undrafted free agents. In total, 11 players have stayed on rosters during the seasons.
Starting with the biggest names, let’s go with those drafted. New York Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley lead the list of big names and maybe all NFL rookies. He was selected second overall and has backed it up.
Barkley has been responsible for 1,124 yards rushing and nine touchdowns, adding 78 catches, 629 yards and four more touchdowns through the air. He’s also accomplished all that with zero fumbles, and I don’t mean fumbles lost, I mean zero total fumbles. He’s truly a once-in-a-generation talent, and as I wrote last week, he’s on an unreal pace to surpass 2,000 scrimmage yards in year one.
Moving onto Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki. Miami took him in the second round, and he’s shown some potential, catching 18 passes for 156 yards, but he’s not quite broken out yet. Part of that is due to the respect opposing defenses apparently have for him according to the Miami Herald. With more time on the field and with starting QB Ryan Tannehill, he should see an increase in targets and receptions.
DaeSean Hamilton recently busted out for his biggest game of the year against the 49ers. Sitting behind a deep Denver Broncos’ receiving corp to start the year, Hamilton finally caught fire with 7 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown against San Francisco. Overall, he’s 12 passes for 108 yards and has helped a lot as a fourth-round selection.
The remaining draft picks haven’t done much this year. Washington Redskins safety Troy Apke (fourth round), Pittsburgh Steelers safety Marcus Allen (fifth round) and New Orleans Saints cornerback Christian Campbell (sixth round).
Apke has one tackle on the year but that was his only production, as he was put on injured reserve after suffering an injury. Allen has played in one game and made one tackle. Campbell was cut from the team that drafted him, the Arizona Cardinals, but is on the Saints’ roster.
The undrafted free agents are where Penn State football has made its money. Five of those six made rosters and a few have received playing time already. Giants corner Grant Haley leads that group, recording 23 total tackles and two pass deflections in seven games and six starts for New York.
Oakland Raiders linebacker Jason Cabinda also headlines the list with 15 tackles in seven games and three starts. Those two had added to Penn State’s name in the NFL along with Carolina Panthers guard Brendan Mahon, who has played two games.
Raiders wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Curtis Cothran round out the players on rosters.
So far, this group has made a name for itself, littering across multiple NFL teams and succeeding whether it’s as a draft pick or undrafted.