Sports

Five Lions Selected on Day Three of NFL Draft

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State football saw five players selected on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft on Saturday. Linebacker Brandon Smith (4th Round, 120th overall to Carolina), punter Jordan Stout (4th round, 130th overall to Baltimore), cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (6th round, 221st overall to San Francisco), offensive lineman Rasheed Walker (7th round, 249th overall to Green Bay) and defensive end/linebacker Jesse Luketa (7th round, 249th overall to Arizona) each heard their names called.
 
Penn State’s eight draft picks are the most since 1996 (10). The Nittany Lions have had five or more picks in five-consecutive years, the first time since PSU had a string of seven-straight drafts of five-or-more picks (1978-84). A total of 31 players have been drafted in the last five NFL drafts for Penn State, the most in a five-year span for the program since 1992-96 (36 picks).
 
The eight draft picks for the Nittany Lions this year ranked fourth in the country.
 
Penn State’s 2022 NFL Draft Picks

  • 1st Round, 16th Overall, Washington Commanders: Jahan Dotson, WR
  • 2nd Round, 38th Overall, Atlanta Falcons: Arnold Ebiketie, DE
  • 2nd Round, 48th Overall, Chicago Bears: Jaquan Brisker, S
  • 4th Round, 120th Overall, Carolina Panthers: Brandon Smith, LB
  • 4th Round, 130th Overall, Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Stout, P
  • 6th Round, 221st Overall, San Francisco 49ers: Tariq Castro-Fields, CB
  • 7th Round, 249th Overall, Green Bay Packers: Rasheed Walker, OL
  • 7th Round, 256th Overall, Arizona Cardinals: Jesse Luketa, DE/LB

 With the selections of Jahan Dotson, Arnold Ebiketie and Jaquan Brisker, Penn State has had three-plus players drafted in the first two rounds of back-to-back drafts for just the second time in school history, the last time being 1995-96. Penn State had three first rounders in 1995 (Ki-Jana Carter, Kerry Collins and Kyle Brady), and two first rounders and second rounder in 1996 (Jeff Hartings, Andre Johnson and Bobby Engram).
 
Penn State’s five draft picks on defense in 2022 are the most since 1992 (5).
 
A total of 375 Nittany Lions have been selected all-time in the NFL Draft, which ranks seventh among Division I institutions. Penn State has had 58 draft picks since 2010. A total of 40 Nittany Lions have been drafted since head coach James Franklin‘s arrival to the program.
 
Brandon Smith
 
Overall, the Nittany Lions have had 71 linebackers selected in the NFL Draft, the most of any school. It marks the third-straight draft Penn State has had a linebacker selected (Cam Brown, 6th round, 183rd overall to New York Giants in 2020; Micah Parsons, 1st round, 12th overall to Dallas Cowboys in 2021).
 
Smith becomes the fifth PSU player selected by the Panthers. He is the first Penn State player to be drafted by Carolina since 2020 (Yetur Gross-Matos, 2nd round, 38th overall). Smith joins Penn State Football lettermen in Gross-Matos, head coach Matt Rhule, and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni.

“We are so thrilled for Brandon to have his dream of playing in the NFL come true,” said head coach James Franklin. “He will be a great fit for the Panthers organization. With an impressive combination of size and speed, Brandon has all the tools to be a successful NFL linebacker. He showed tremendous growth during his time here at Penn State and I am excited to see him showcase his athleticism on Sundays. I enjoyed having the privilege to coach Brandon, and look forward to watching him wreak havoc on NFL offenses for years to come.”

 

“I am happy for Brandon getting this opportunity with the Panthers,” said co-defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter. “Physically, Brandon is one of the most freakish athletes I’ve ever seen and his raw talent is unbelievable. I think his abilities fit the NFL style of game as he is excellent at playing in space. With his size and athleticism, I think he’ll be a matchup problem for tight ends and running backs. Being 6-4 and 250 pounds, it’s kind of unbelievable that this guy can run and move the way he does. He has a great work ethic, is strong, powerful, a great weight room guy and sees the game well. I’m looking forward to following his NFL career.”

 

Brandon Smith, LB, 6-3, 241, Louisa, Va./Louisa County

  • Named third-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and honorable mention by the media in 2021.
  • Named a 2021 Butkus Award semifinalist.
  • Selected Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week following the Auburn game (9/18).
  • Made 12 starts in 2021.
  • Made eight tackles, including six solo, with a TFL at Wisconsin (9/4).
  • Recorded a career-high 10 tackles with a tackle-for-loss and a pass breakup against Auburn (9/18).
  • Recorded a solo sack and added a pass breakup against Indiana (10/2).
  • Tallied seven tackles with a sack and a forced fumble against Illinois (10/23).
  • Recorded a team-high nine tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups at Maryland (11/6).
  • Tallied a career-high tying 10 tackles and a pass breakup against Michigan (11/13).

 
Jordan Stout
 
With Stout heading to Baltimore, he becomes the first Penn State specialist drafted since 2004 (K David Kimball, 7th round, 229th overall to Indianapolis). He is the highest drafted PSU specialist since 1997 (K Brett Conway, 90th overall to Green Bay). Stout is Penn State’s first drafted punter since 1987 (John Bruno, 5th round, 126th overall to St. Louis) and the highest drafted punter ever at PSU.
 
Stout becomes the sixth PSU player selected by the Ravens. He joins two Penn State Football lettermen in Baltimore, defensive end Odafe Oweh and safeties coach D’Anton Lynn.
 
“I am so happy for Jordan being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, Penn State’s first punter drafted since the 1987 season,” said Franklin. “Jordan is a great example of a guy who transferred into Penn State and immediately bought into our process and core values, worked as hard as anyone and succeeded because of it. He began his career as a kickoff specialist and did a tremendous job developing into one of the best punters in the country. His collegiate accolades include Big Ten Punter of the Year, numerous All-American selections, and finishing as a Ray Guy Award finalist. Jordan’s ability to eliminate returns, both in the kickoff and punt game will bode well for him in the NFL. Jordan also excelled in the class room, earning a degree in telecommunications. We appreciate all Jordan has done for this program and are excited to see him compete on Sundays.”
 
“I’m absolutely fired up for Jordan and his family for the incredible opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL,” said special teams analyst Eric Raisbeck. “He will absolutely be the steal of the draft with how much value he can bring to an organization. He is an elite talent, mentally tough and a great young man. He already has a professional approach to his craft and that will carry him through a long NFL career. We are proud of Jordan and look forward to watching him play for the Ravens.”
 
Jordan Stout, P, 6-3, 209, Cedar Bluff, Va./Honaker

  • Selected a Ray Guy Award finalist.
  • Earned second-team All-America honors from the AFCA.
  • Named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press.
  • Accepted an invitation to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and was named a Reese’s Senior Bowl All-American.
  • Awarded the Eddleman-Fields Big Ten Punter of the Year.
  • Named First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media.
  • Also earned All-Big Ten honorable mention as a kicker from the media.

 Tariq Castro-Fields
 
Castro-Fields is the 37th defensive back drafted in Penn State history and the ninth drafted in the Franklin era. He is the 14th Nittany Lion to ever be drafted by the 49ers and joins Penn State lettermen Kevin Givens and Robbie Gould in San Francisco.
 
“We are excited for Tariq to continue his football career with the 49ers,” said Franklin. “I am confident Tariq will make a seamless transition into the NFL and bring with him a veteran presence few rookies possess. Tariq played in 52 career games for us at Penn State over the past five years, starting 30 of them. He has triumphed in the face of adversity after missing the bulk of the 2020 season due to injury and came back even stronger for his final season. Tariq’s work ethic was not just limited to football, as he earned his degree in sociology. I am excited for Tariq’s future at the next level and wish him continued success for many years to come.”
 
“I am so happy for Tariq getting this opportunity with 49ers,” said associate head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith. “Tariq is an extremely athletic, dynamic, long corner who is both physical and a great cover guy. He’s going to make a great professional player. Because of his intelligence, I anticipate he’s going to play for a long time. I look forward to watching him compete on NFL Sundays.”
 
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, 6-0, 194, Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist School

  • Played in 52 career games, making 30 starts at cornerback.
  • Recorded 138 tackles (93 solo), 10 tackles for loss, three interceptions, 25 pass breakups and a forced fumble.
  • Named All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches and media in 2021.
  • Accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
  • Made 12 starts at cornerback in 20201.
  • Made 32 tackles (27 solo) and broke up six passes.

Rasheed Walker
 
Walker is the 13th PSU player selected by the Packers and the first Nittany Lion taken by Green Bay since 2010 (TE Andrew Quarless, 5th round, 154th overall). He joins two Penn State Football lettermen in Green Bay, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Michal Menet.  
 
“Rasheed is extremely deserving of this opportunity with the Packers,” said Franklin. “He has been a steady contributor to our program, with 32 starts at left tackle, earning All-Big Ten honors twice. Over the course of his career, Rasheed transformed himself mentally and physically to a point where he developed into one of the best tackles in the Big Ten conference. We appreciate Rasheed’s commitment to our program and wish him nothing but the best in his NFL career.”
 
“Rasheed is extremely deserving of this opportunity with the Packers,” said offensive line coach Phil Trautwein. “He is a tremendous talent who is strong, athletic and has great footwork. Rasheed decided to come back for another season with us and clearly laid out his goals and worked really hard at achieving them. He is a great football player who I was very fortunate to work with these last two seasons. I know he is capable of great things in his NFL future.”
 
Rasheed Walker, OL, 6-6, 325, Waldorf, Md./North Point

  • Named third-team All-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention by the coaches. Named to the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy Watch Lists.
  • Earned a spot on the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Preseason Big Board.
  • Made 10 starts at left tackle in 2021.
  • Voted a team captain.

 Jesse Luketa
 
Overall, the Nittany Lions have had 71 linebackers selected in the NFL Draft, the most of any school. It marks the third-straight draft Penn State has had a linebacker selected (Cam Brown, 6th round, 183rd overall to New York Giants in 2020; Micah Parsons, 1st round, 12th overall to Dallas Cowboys in 2021).
 
Luketa is the 15th Penn State player to ever be drafted by the Cardinals organization. He joins letterman Trace McSorley in Arizona.
 
“In drafting Jesse Luketa, the Cardinals just selected a player who absolutely loves the game of football,” said Franklin. “I am a huge fan of Jesse and am proud of all he has accomplished within our program. His knowledge of the game, physical nature, and ability to play multiple positions will allow Jesse to enjoy a successful NFL career for years to come. We were able to take advantage of Jesse’s versatility this past season, lining him up both at linebacker and defensive end, and his eagerness to embrace that role will prove valuable in any NFL locker room. In addition, Jesse demonstrated what it meant to be a true student-athlete, earning his degree in criminology. We are so happy for Jesse and are excited to see him compete at the next level.”
 
“I can’t wait to see Jesse Luketa take the field for the Cardinals,” said defensive line coach John Scott Jr. “He is a very talented player that can play multiple positions. He can rush the passer, he can drop into coverage, he can blitz, he is very physical and strong versus tight ends and tackles in the run game and he is a really good special teams player. People are going to love Jesse’s attitude, fire and practice demeanor. The way he comes to work every day is infectious to the team. He will be an awesome locker room guy for the Cardinals.”
 
Jesse Luketa, LB/DE, 6-3, 247, Ottawa, Ontario/Mercyhurst Prep (Pa.)

  • Accepted an invitation to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
  • Named third-team All-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention by the coaches.
  • Selected PFF Defensive Player of the Week (9/13).
  • Named to the Butkus Award Watch List.
  • Appeared in 12 games, making eight starts.

A total of 38 lettermen are returning for Penn State in 2022. The Nittany Lions return 12 starters – six on offense, five on defense and one on special teams. PSU will face nine teams who participated in a bowl game during the 2021 campaign.
 
For more information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and reserving new season tickets for the 2022 Penn State Football season presented by PSECU, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
 
More than 3,400 new season tickets have already been sold for the 2022 campaign.
 

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