Back in December, before Penn State took on Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, the Nittany Lions already knew they would be down two key underclassmen for the game and next season. Chop Robinson and Kalen King both declared for the NFL draft and opted out of the season finale. Now, on Tuesday, both have been granted special eligibility for the 2024 NFL Draft along with 32 other underclassmen.
When a player decides to leave school early, the NFL has to approve their declaration for the player to be draft-eligible in April. Both Robinson, a projected first-round pick, and King, likely a late first to early second-round selection, were approved.
Traditionally, the pre-draft “showcase” games, such as the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Bowl, and HBCU Legacy Bowl have only allowed seniors to play. However, this season is the first year that organizers have been allowed to invite underclassmen who are deemed draft-eligible.
Kalen King quickly jumped on that opportunity, just one day after getting his eligibility, King accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile Alabama which will be played on February 3.
King is the fourth Nittany Lion to accept an invitation to the 2024 Senior Bowl, joining Johnny Dixon, Adisa Isaac, and Theo Johnson. Throughout the week leading up to the game, players are allowed to interact with personnel from all 32 NFL teams during practices.
On the other hand, Chop Robinson and Olu Fashanu, the two highest-rated Penn State prospects, have not indicated whether or not they will participate in the Senior Bowl. For players who are likely to be early first-round selections, there often isn’t much upside to risking injury in such an event.
In all, nine Penn State football players have declared for the 2024 NFL draft: Fashanu, Robinson, King, Dixon, Isaac, Johnson, Daquon Hardy, Alex Felkins, and Trey Potts.