The 2023 Penn State Nittany Lions had to survive without their best pass-rusher, Chop Robinson for two games after he suffered an injury in the loss to Ohio State. James Franklin’s team went 2-0 over that stretch and 2-1 if you count the Ohio State game he left.
Now, they’ll get another chance to win without their junior edge rusher in the Peach Bowl. On Tuesday afternoon, Robinson announced on his social media that he would forego his team’s bowl game to prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft. Robinson is widely considered to be a first-round draft prospect.
The Nittany Lions were bracing for opt-outs for their matchup against Ole Miss in Atlanta, and there may be more to come with multiple potential first-round draft picks. Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin told the media that he does not expect any opt-outs for the third straight season.
Robinson was a big part of the Penn State defensive line, but the team should be well-suited to get by without him.
In 2023, Penn State ranked No. 1 in total defense and yards per play. A lot of that success was due to Manny Diaz’s excellent defensive line. They finished first in sacks per game and had the highest pressure rate in the country.
Robinson finished the season fourth on the team in sacks with four. Adisa Isaac led the team with 7.5 and Johnny Dixon and Abdul Carter both finished with 4.5. Sophomore edge rusher Dani Dennis-Sutton was great in Robinson’s absence and saw plenty of snaps when Robinson was healthy. He and junior Zuriah Fisher will fill the role opposite Isaac for the Peach Bowl. Amin Vanover and Jameial Lyons should also see an uptick in snap count.
At 6-foot-3 250 pounds with long arms and elite athleticism, Robinson’s production at Penn State was somewhat underwhelming in his two years after transferring to Happy Valley from Maryland. He finishes his Penn State career with 16 tackles, four sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Still, he is viewed as an impact rusher at the next level because of his projectable traits. He will likely be selected with a top-20 pick in the NFL draft.