(WHTM) – More than a dozen Nittany Lions are preparing to join the nearly 400 alumni who have been selected over the last 83 years in the NFL Draft.
Much has changed since Leon Gajecki was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 16th round of the 1940 NFL Draft when he become the first Penn State player drafted.
Since the NFL Draft began there have been 375 Nittany Lions drafted, the seventh-most among all college football programs. Of those 375 players, 71 are linebackers with Penn State legends such as Jack Ham, Sean Lee, NaVorro Bowman, LaVar Arrington, Micah Parsons, and Michael Mauti.
Penn State is one of only four programs with at least five picks in the last five NFL Drafts and since 2016 has had 37 players drafted in the NFL. There’s also been a Nittany Lion drafted every year since 2006.
Since then there have also been four first-round picks to come out of Happy Valley: Saquon Barkley, Micah Parsons, Odafe Oweh, and Jahan Dotson.
Here’s a look back at the last five NFL Drafts and the Nittany Lions selected.
2022 NFL Draft
- Jahan Dotson, 16th overall to the Washington Commanders
- Arnold Ebiketie, 38th overall to the Atlanta Falcons
- Jaquan Brisker, 48th overall to the Chicago Bears
- Brandon Smith, 120th overall to the Carolina Panthers
- Jordan Stout, 130th overall to the Baltimore Ravens
- Tariq Castro-Fields, 221st overall to the San Francisco 49ers
- Rasheed Walker, 249th overall to the Green Bay Packers
- Jesse Luketa, 256th overall to the Arizona Cardinals
Penn State’s eight 2022 NFL Draft picks are their most since 1996 when they had 10 players drafted.
2021 NFL Draft
- Micah Parsons, 12th overall to the Dallas Cowboys
- Odafe Oweh, 31st overall to the Baltimore Ravens
- Pat Freiermuth, 55th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Shaka Toney, 246th overall to the Washington Football Team
- Michal Menet, 247th overall to the Arizona Cardinals
- Will Fries, 248th overall to the Indianapolis Colts
2020 NFL Draft
- Yetur Gross-Matos, 38th overall to the Carolina Panthers
- KJ Hamler, 46th overall to the Denver Broncos
- John Reid, 141st overall to the Houston Texans
- Cam Brown, 183rd overall to the New York Giants
- Robert Windsor, 193rd overall to the Indianapolis Colts
2019 NFL Draft
- Miles Sanders, 53rd overall to the Philadelphia Eagles
- Connor McGovern, 90th overall to the Dallas Cowboys
- Shareef Miller, 138th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles
- Amani Oruwariye, 146th overall to the Detroit Lions
- Trace McSorley, 197th overall to the Baltimore Ravens
- Nick Scott, 243rd overall to the Los Angeles Rams
2018 NFL Draft
- Saquan Barkley, 2nd overall to the New York Giants
- Mike Gesicki, 42nd overall to the Miami Dolphins
- Troy Apke, 109th overall to the Washington Football Team
- DaeSean Hamilton, 113th overall to the Denver Broncos
- Marcus Allen, 148th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Christian Campbell, 182nd overall to the Arizona Cardinals
The 2023 NFL Draft will likely break a three-year streak where Penn State has had a defensive lineman go in the first two rounds. Six Penn State defensive linemen have been drafted over the last three seasons.
Seven Penn State defensive backs have been drafted over the last five years, the second-most in that span. That number will grow with Joey Porter Jr., Ji’Ayir Brown, and Jonathan Sutherland in the 2023 NFL Draft.
There have also been 40 first-round Nittany Lions, including LaVar Arrington and Ki-Jana Carter going first overall. Porter Jr. may become the 41st player in that prestigious club of Nittany Lions.
The 2023 NFL Draft begins on April 27 in Kansas City.