Penn State LB Jesse Luketa declares for NFL draft

·2 min read

Penn State played its Outback Bowl missing a significant number of starting defensive players due to NFL opt-outs. Among those who did play was linebacker Jesse Luketa, but within hours after the loss to Arkansas, Luketa has announced he will also be heading off to the NFL in 2022.

Lueketa posted a message on his Twitter account Saturday evening announcing his intention to forgo his final season of eligibility at Penn State and declare for the 2022 NFL draft.

“My time at Penn State has been nothing but blessing,” Luketa said in his statement. “With that being said, after speaking with my family, I have decided to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft! It has been an honor to represent the Blue & White and enter battle in the greatest stadium in the world!”

Luketa’s decision to turn pro is not too surprising. He performed admirably at multiple positions for Penn State during the 2021 season by playing linebacker when needed in the Outback Bowl and showing what he can do on the defensive line on multiple occasions during the regular season. It may be that his versatility at multiple defensive positions will pay off for Luketa in the draft process, similarly to former Nittany Lion Odafe Oweh, who went on to become a first-round draft pick.

Luketa may not be a first-round pick, but he has the physical stature and skillset to thrive in draft workouts. His departure will give Penn State another key starter to replace in the offseason. Penn State got a glimpse of some players that will likely be filling starting roles in 2022, but having Luketa choose to play one final game was a much-needed lift for the defensive unit in the Outback Bowl. The defense as a whole took a toll against the Razorbacks, but having a veteran leader like Luketa available was a nice luxury to have.

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