Penn State and Washington both have a lot of quality players and as a result are in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. There is plenty of talent on the field and NFL scouts will be watching intently. Here are the top NFL draft prospects in the 2017 Playstation Fiesta Bowl:
Vita Vea, DT/NT
Vea is one of the best defensive tackles in the class. He has experience on a three man defensive front, but could easily fit into a 4-3 system as well. Because he plays on a three man front, he doesn’t produce a lot, but he does take on a lot of double teams. This season Vea has 37 total tackles, 5.5 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
He has tremendous size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds and a lot of teams will want to take a chance on him based on that. Vea will likely go in the first round in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round
Dante Pettis, WR
Pettis produces in a lot of ways for the Huskies. He is a record setting return man and also catches a lot of passes. This season he has 62 catches for 721 yards and seven touchdowns. He has nine career punt returns for touchdowns and is a threat every time he touches the ball.
He has decent size at 6’1″ and 195 pounds, but his speed is his greatest asset. His ability to play on special team elevates his draft stock. Pettis is probable to play in the Fiesta Bowl with a leg injury.
Projected draft range: 2nd round-3rd round
Keishawn Bierria, LB
Bierra has gotten a lot of playing time at Washington. He has 229 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. While he has only played nine games this season, he still has 49 total tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack. His production isn’t great, but he is a good player on a good defense.
He isn’t the biggest at 6’1″ and 223 pounds, but has good enough size. He will be selected in the late rounds of the draft, but will get a chance to make a roster.
Projected draft range: 5th round-7th round
*LB Azeem Victor is out for this game with a suspension.
Other notable Washington prospects: LB Azeem Victor (4th round-5th round), RB Myles Gaskin (5th round-7th round), C Shelton Coleman (5th round-7th round), QB Jake Browning (6th round-undrafted free agent)
Penn State Nittany Lions
Saquon Barkley, RB
Barkley is one of the best prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft class. He will be selected in the top ten and has 3,706 rushing yards, 1,157 receiving yards and 49 touchdowns in his career. Barkley is one of the most complete backs to ever come out of college and is able to do just about everything well.
He is well-built at 5’11” and 228 pounds, which has put him in good position to get drafted early. If he lasts past the top ten picks, it will be a surprise.
Projected draft range: Top 10 pick
Mike Gesicki, TE
Gesicki has really produced the past two seasons for Penn State. In his four seasons as a Nittany Lion, he has 1,419 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. This season, he has become a great red zone target and has nine receiving touchdowns.
At 6’5″ and 257 pounds, Gesicki is big enough to handle tight end duties in the NFL. He will be one of the first tight ends selected, but that might mean being taken on day two or three.
Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round
Jason Cabinda, LB
Cabinda is the defensive leader of Penn State. He has 281 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his career at Penn State. This season he has 86 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He doesn’t produce as much as other linebackers, but still is one of the best players on the field.
He is 6’1″ and 234 pounds, which isn’t the biggest, but he can be successful. Cabinda is a prime candidate for the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.
Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round
Other notable Penn State prospects: S Marcus Allen (4th round-6th round), QB Trace McSorley (6th round-undrafted free agent), OT/G Brendan Mahon (Undrafted free agent)
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