Penn State football is known for producing stellar student athletes who often continue to have great success in the NFL. This year was no exception, as multiple Penn State players signed with NFL teams.
Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del.) was the only Nittany Lion drafted this year. The outstanding wide receiver was drafted in the third round as the 84th pick overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite former murmurings that Pittsburgh or Philadelphia were planning to draft him.
Godwin had a breakout season in 2016, recording 59 catches for 982 yards and a record-breaking 11 touchdowns for a junior wide receiver. Godwin is just the third player in Nittany Lion Football history to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
“Chris Godwin has been an exceptional player and teammate during his time here at Penn State,” said wide receivers coach Josh Gattis. “Chris will be deeply missed by this program, but we wish him the best moving forward in his NFL career.”
Although Godwin was the only Nittany Lion formally drafted, other former Penn State players signed as free agents.
Linebacker and former captain Brandon Bell (Mays Landing, N.J.) signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bell was injured for some of the 2016 season with ankle and hand injuries, but still rallied to achieve 88 tackles in the season, many of which were key to the Lions’ maintaining a win. Bell was also one of just four players in the FBS to record multiple games with at least 18 tackles per game.
Former defensive end Evan Schwan (Harrisburg, Pa.) was also able to sign as an undrafted free agent, and he is heading to the New York Jets, where former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg currently resides.
Schwan was tied for 11th in number of sacks in the Big Ten with .46 sacks per game. Schwan also earned the Reid-Robinson Award, which is given to the most outstanding defensive end at the end of the season.
Safety Malik Golden (Hartford, Conn.) has found his home with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent as well. Golden started 13 games and made a career-high 75 tackles during the 2016 season. During the Ohio State victory, Golden made three solo-stops against the Buckeyes.
A fan favorite, Garrett Sickels (Red Bank, N.J.) will be heading to the Indianapolis Colts this coming year. An imposing 6’1, the former defensive end logged a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss in 2016, and also clocked a 4.90 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Pro-Day.
Lions Pride wishes all our NFL-bound Penn Staters the best of luck with their future careers!