2016 NFL Combine: Penn State Guide

Story posted February 23, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio, NFL Draft by Marley Paul

Five former Penn State football players take the next step in their journey to the professional ranks this week as they travel to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine, which will run Tuesday through Sunday. A chance to improve their draft stock and impress talent evaluators is exactly what all five Nittany Lion invitees needed after a 7-6 season that ended on a four-game losing streak. Throughout the four-day process, all 32 NFL teams will have the opportunity to interview and observe prospects in advance of the NFL Draft, scheduled to take place April 28-30. Two underclassmen, projected early-round picks, highlight the Penn State group in search of hearing their names called in Chicago.

(Name, Age, Measurements per GoPSUSports, NFL.com Draft Grade)

Abridged NFL Draft Grade Scale

6.00-6.49        Chance to become good NFL starter

5.70-5.99        Could become early NFL starter

5.30-5.69        Backup or eventual starter

5.15-5.29        Developmental prospect or special teams potential

QB Christian Hackenberg; 21, 6’4”, 228 lbs. (5.61):

The former five-star prospect’s journey at Penn State was a test of both physical and mental fortitude. He endured more than 80 sacks in the past two seasons as he concluded his collegiate career with an underwhelming 56 percent completion rate, which decreased each season. But the former top-10 projected pick has been hard at work in his training to reclaim the hype that followed him into college and through his first season. As the other touted quarterbacks are expected to throw at the combine, Hackenberg is primed to stake his claim among the elite of the group with a great showing.

DT Austin Johnson; 21, 6’4” 323 lbs. (5.98):

A breakout junior campaign has Johnson projected to be taken within the first two days of the draft. A game-clinching 71-yard touchdown scamper may have been the highlight of the light-footed defensive tackle’s 2015 season, but his 15 tackles for a loss even further illustrates his ability to blow things up in the backfield, in a hurry. If he can show he does in fact possess some quickness on his massive frame, in addition to sound arm technique off blocks, that’d go a long way in working himself into the first round.

DB Jordan Lucas; 22, 6’0”, 199 lbs. (5.23):

A nagging shoulder injury cut his senior season short and followed him into the offseason as the former corner turned safety could not heal in time to compete at the Senior Bowl. A hard-hitting tackler, Lucas is spotty in coverage at times and hasn’t picked off a pass since 2013. He will need a very strong showing at the combine coupled with an impressive Pro Day to make his way up draft boards.

DT Anthony Zettel; 23, 6’4”, 284 lbs. (5.32):

Arguably the best player on the defensive line coming into last season, the two linemen that lined up to his left stole much of the national attention from Zettel, who led the team in sacks and interceptions in 2014. He made the switch from end to tackle in 2015, but scouts have a tough time placing him at either position to thrive in due to his body frame and lack of explosiveness of the line of scrimmage. 

DE Carl Nassib; 22, 6’7”, 272 lbs.(5.61):

One of the better stories in college football last year - from walk-on to consensus All-American, - Nassib was a terror in 2015, leading the nation in sacks despite missing parts of the final three regular season games due to a hamstring injury. The injury cautioned him to sit out of the Senior Bowl after a week of practice. His lack of experience is a huge question mark — he was a second-stringer in high school — so persuading the right team to invest in him, the same way former coach Bill O’Brien once did, will be certainly be atop his agenda in Indianapolis.

The event will be televised on NFL Network and streamed on NFL.com. Below is a schedule of the events the aforementioned prospects will partake in with their respective position groups at the combine:

Quarterbacks:

Wednesday, Feb. 24: Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Orientation ~ Interviews

Thursday, Feb. 25: Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Media ~ Interviews

Friday Feb. 26: NFLPA Meeting ~ Psychological Testing ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews

Saturday Feb. 27: On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

Defensive linemen:

Thursday, Feb. 25: Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Orientation ~ Interviews

Friday, Feb. 26: Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Media ~ Interviews

Saturday, Feb. 27: NFLPA Meeting ~ Psychological Testing ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews

Sunday, Feb. 28: On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

Defensive backs:

Friday, Feb. 26: Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Orientation ~ Interviews

Saturday, Feb. 27: Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Media ~ Interviews

Sunday, Feb. 28: NFLPA Meeting ~ Psychological Testing ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews

Monday, Feb. 29: On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

Marley Paul is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email mdp5300@psu.edu or follow him on Twitter: @MarleyPaul22.