10 biggest NFL draft busts in Penn State football history

Penn State has produced plenty of top draft picks in the NFL, they just haven't always panned out in the league. Olu Fashanu and Chop Robinson don't want to end up on this list after their NFL careers.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Ki-Jana Carter (32)
Cincinnati Bengals running back Ki-Jana Carter (32) / Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
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Penn State is known as Linebacker U, but if it wasn’t for a few drafted busts in the NFL, it may be better remembered for great running backs. However, some of the best Nittany Lions running backs just didn’t work out in the NFL. 

It’s hard to make the jump from college football to the league, but for highly drafted Penn State players, it has seemed to be even harder. For whatever reason, a lot of the first-round picks to come out of Happy Valley, haven’t worked out. 

Lately, with established NFL stars like Saquon Barkley and Micah Parsons, and a budding star in Joey Porter Jr. James Franklin’s best players have started to excel at the next level. In 2024, Olu Fashanu, Chop Robinson, and Kalen King are likely to be selected in the first or second round. Those players are hoping their careers don’t land them on this list. 

Penn State has produced 39 NFL first-round picks and of that group, five turned into NFL Hall of Famers. Plenty had serviceable to great NFL careers, but the 10 players on this list, left the team that drafted them wondering what went wrong. 

Kenny Jackson. 54. . No. 4 overall. Kenny Jackson, WR. 10. player. . 1984. Kenny Jackson, WR

Jackson was far from a total flop in the NFL, but he didn’t deliver on the fourth overall pick. As a rookie, Jackson played 11 games and started nine for the Eagles. He grabbed 26 passes for 326 yards and one touchdown. 

The next season, Jackson was more involved, playing all 16 games, but he finished with 692 yards on 40 receptions, both career highs. Year 2 was his best season and it was still underwhelming. 

Jackson played for eight years in the NFL and finished with 126 catches for 2,170 yards and 11 touchdowns. He never made a Pro Bowl or caught more than 40 passes.