NFL Scouting Combine grades for Penn State football stars, Chop Robinson, Olu Fashanu, and more

A big key to recruiting is proving to high schoolers that you can make their NFL dreams come true. With former Nittany Lions dominating the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, James Franklin will have more first-round draft picks to flaunt.
Penn State tight end Theo Johnson (TE07)
Penn State tight end Theo Johnson (TE07) / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Penn State nearly had a player break into the first round of the NFL draft. Joey Porter Jr. was selected 32nd overall by Pittsburgh, but because Miami forfeited its first-round pick, No. 32 was a second-rounder. This year, it’s not a matter of if a former Nittany Lions breaks into the first round, it’s a question of how many. 

Olu Fashanu is no longer the consensus No. 1 offensive tackle, but in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine, he made sure he’d be gone in the first picks. Though Fashanu wasn’t the only Nittany Lion who boosted his draft stock in Indy. 

Let’s get into some combine grades for the nine former Nittany Lions who made the trip to Lucas Oil Stadium and look at their relative athletic score courtesy of Kent Lee Platte. RAS factors height and weight into a player’s athletic testing measurements (so if two players run a 4.40 40-yard dash and one is 190 pounds while the other is 250 pounds, the latter will have a better RAS). 

Projected: Top 15. Olu Fashanu. Olu. A-. OT

As the NFL draft community digs deeper into Fashanu’s film, he seems to be slipping down mock drafts and draft boards. Joe Alt has emerged as the clear OT1, but Fashanu staved off a free fall with his combine performance. 

Fashanu doesn’t have dominant size, but displayed his elite movement skills which will keep him in the top half of the first round. 

A. EDGE. Projected: 1st round. Chop Robinson. Chop

Like Fashanu, Robinson was dropping down draft boards since the end of the season. This edge class is not nearly as competitive as the group of elite offensive tackles, so with a stellar outing in Indy, Robinson jumped right back into the mix for EDGE1. 

Robinson wasn’t overly productive at Penn State, but his sub-4.50 40 confirmed that he has the potential to be a dominant speed rusher in the league. Robinson doesn’t measure up to the rest of the edge class in terms of height and weight, but his athleticism will help bridge the gap. 

A+. TE. Projected: Day 2. Theo Johnson. Theo

Other than Xavier Worthy running a 4.21 40-yard dash, there may not have been a player who helped their draft stock at the combine more than Theo Johnson. By relative athletic score, the Canadian put together the second-best combine performance by a tight end in history, only behind former Nittany Lions Zack Kuntz. 

Johnson didn’t have elite numbers at Penn State, but he’s an elite athlete and cemented himself as a Day 2 selection, potentially in the second round. 

Projected: Round 3-4. Adisa Isaac. Isaac. C+. EDGE

Coming off a strong Senior Bowl performance in Mobile, Isaac had a chance to skyrocket well into the second round, but he got exposed as just a good, not elite athlete. His 40-time and explosiveness testing is more than passable for the league, but the storyline coming out of this weekend is that Isaac’s production at Penn State may have been inextricably tied to Chop Robinson’s dominance on the other side. 

CB. Projected: Day 3. Kalen King. Kalen King. F

The free fall continues for King. At the end of the 2022 season, as Joey Porter Jr. prepared for the 2023 NFL Draft, scouts often remarked that JPJ may not have been the best cornerback on his own team. The NFL was excited about King’s final year at Penn State, but he struggled against high-level competition like Marvin Harrison Jr. and now everybody found out why. 

King has not only fallen out of the first-round discussion, but he’ll likely slip deep into Day 3 and may need to make a position change from cornerback to free safety. With his limited size, King needed to be an elite athlete, but instead, he ran a slower 40 than Theo Johnson did at 259 pounds. 

OT. Projected: Day 3. Caedan Wallace. Caedan Wallace. B+

Olu Fashanu was expected to test well, but Caedan Wallace was a big surprise in Indy. Wallace excelled at the East-West Shrine Bowl and just continues to rise up draft boards. His 40-time was unremarkable, but the 10-yard split is all that matters for O-linemen and Wallace’s was excellent. Right now, he’s still viewed as a Day 3 prospect, but could easily rise into the third round. 

Curtis Jacobs. B-. LB. Projected: Rounds 5-7. Curtis Jacobs

The biggest danger of combine evaluation is double-counting. We already knew that Curtis Jacobs was small and fast, so him weighing in at 231 pounds and running a 4.58 shouldn’t change anything about his evaluation. Jacobs performed well but didn’t do anything to alter the league’s perception of him as a player. 

hardy. A. CB. Projected: Rounds 6-7. Daequan Hardy

The questions about Daequan Hardy never had anything to do with him as an athlete. The combine was the perfect place for Hardy to turn heads and he did just that. Hardy’s 40-yard dash was the sixth fastest among cornerbacks and his 42.50” vertical was the second best. He’s an undersized corner with elite athleticism who will find a spot on a roster as a special teamer and blitzing nickel corner. 

Projected: Round 7. Hunter Nourzad. Hunter Nourzad. INC. C

Nourzard went to Indy to weigh in and bench press. He got 27 reps which was 10th most among offensive linemen, but with no other data points it’s hard to say what that means for his draft stock.

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