Penn State Football’s ‘versatile’ Jesse Luketa rising as NFL Combine begins

Jesse Luketa #40 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Jesse Luketa #40 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Penn State Football linebacker Jesse Luketa is viewed by many as a ‘positionless player’ as theNFL Draft approaches, and he has a chance to boost his stock

Penn State Football linebacker Jesse Luketa has much at stake during the NFL Combine.

One of the Nittany Lions‘ premier defenders, the Canadian has the opportunity to prove this week that he deserves to hear his name called during this spring’s NFL Draft.

Luketa quickly rose up Penn State Football’s depth chart when he arrived in Happy Valley from Ottawa in 2018, finished his senior season with a career-high 61 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, half a sack, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.

Similar to the path traveled by Baltimore Ravens first-round pick Odafe Oweh, it sounds as though those inside the league believe that Luketa has the potential to exceed his collegiate production because of his hybrid skill-set at the NFL level.

"“He’s just a real versatile player,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said, during a conference call with reporters. “You talk to some coaches around the league right now and kind of where everything is going, we’ve been talking about positionless players forever. He’s a different style when it comes to that in terms of what he can do. But he can do more than one thing, so his ability to play off the ball, his ability to rush off the edge.”"

What would Jesse Luketa bring to an NFL team that drafts him

One of the leaders of Penn State Football’s defense last season, Luketa produced an 82.4 overall grade from Pro Football Focus last season, before arriving in Mobile, Ala. where he had a strong showing in front of coaches, scouts and executives from across the league during the Senior Bowl.

“Not only is he a versatile player but he has a really versatile frame,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy tells FanSided. “He’s a big person who can play off-ball in base and put his hand down at the line of scrimmage in sub-packages.

“He has really good upside as a pass-rusher, plays his ass off, and loves to compete. I don’t see him getting out of Day 2 [of the NFL Draft.]”

Historically, Penn State Football alums have been among the strongest performers during the NFL Combine, which is taking place this week in Indianapolis. If Luketa runs a fast 40-yard dash time, posts an impressive short-shuttle, and exceeds expectations on the bench, he could climb boards as the draft approaches.

Jeremiah believes that Luketa’s versatility, pass-rush ability, and the fact that you can move him around a defense is going to help his cause significantly. Currently, the NFL Network analysts believes Luketa has the chance to be a day-three selection this April.

"“I love the fact that the guy just plays with fantastic energy,” Jeremiah says. “He just is always bouncing around. He’s got a lot of juice. He’s got a lot of life. He’s got really, really violent hands when he takes on blocks. Some of the change-of-direction stuff and some of the stiffness you’re just going to have to live with.”"

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