Two Penn State players projected to go in NFL Draft's first round

Apr. 24—Olu Fashanu and Chop Robinson are projected to become the second Penn State duo since 2003 to be taken in the first round when the NFL draft begins Thursday night in Detroit.

Fashanu, a left tackle who last year was the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, is expected to be selected no earlier than the seventh pick by the Tennessee Titans and no later than the 21st pick by the Miami Dolphins.

Robinson, an edge rusher who played two seasons for the Nittany Lions after transferring from Maryland, is widely predicted to go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 26th pick in most mock drafts.

If they're drafted that early, it would mark the 10th time that Penn State has had at least two players selected in the first round and the first time since Micah Parsons (12th pick, Dallas) and Odafe Oweh (31st pick, Baltimore) in 2021.

NFL Network draft analyst Chad Reuter has predicted that nine Penn State players will be selected over the three-day draft, which would be the most since 10 were taken in 1996.

Fashanu and Robinson are at the top of the Lions' draft class.

Fashanu did not allow a sack in 646 pass-blocking snaps the last two seasons with the Lions.

"Fashanu is a work in progress, especially as a run blocker," said NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks, "but his natural talent and tools could help him develop into an elite player down the road."

Fashanu was not considered a blue-chip prospect in high school, playing at Gonzaga High School in Walford, Maryland. Rivals was the only recruiting service to give him four stars; the others gave him three.

At Penn State, he was redshirted in 2020 and played sparingly in 2021 until making his first career start in their Outback Bowl loss to Arkansas. He rocketed up draft boards in 2022 before he sustained a season-ending injury against Ohio State, the eighth game of that season.

He played superbly last year and was named a consensus first-team All-American, Penn State's first offensive lineman to be so honored since Jeff Hartings in 1995.

Most mock drafts have the New Orleans Saints selecting Fashanu with the 14th pick.

"Fashanu has ideal size, length and strength for the left tackle position," said Daniel Jeremiah, another NFL Network analyst and a former NFL scout. "In pass protection, he explodes out of his stance, redirects easily and has strong hands to stab and steer defenders. However, there are times where his eyes get him in trouble and he gets uprooted by power rushers.

"In the run game, he is effective at shielding and staying attached, but he could improve his consistency to finish."

Robinson's stock is high because of his explosive quickness. He had only four sacks last season, but he played a large part in Penn State leading the nation with 49 sacks because of the pressure he created.

He ran a 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, one of the fastest times ever recorded by a defensive lineman. He also had a standing broad jump of 10 feet, 8 inches, which helped him post the third-best overall athleticism score by a defensive lineman this year.

"(Tampa Bay coach) Todd Bowles can't resist taking a dynamic defender with outstanding speed, quickness and explosiveness," Brooks said. "Though Robinson did not put up big numbers as a pass rusher at Penn State, he possesses the tools scouts covet in premier pass rushers."

Jeremiah rates him as the 21st-best player available in the draft and the fourth-best edge rusher.

"Robinson is an extremely twitched-up edge rusher with limited production," he said. "He has average size but is incredibly explosive. As a pass rusher, he has excellent get-off quickness, but it looks odd because of his short, choppy steps.

"His sack production is limited, but he was very disruptive in every game I studied. He was asked to drop into (pass) coverage on occasion and looked comfortable in space."

In his complete mock draft, Reuter has edge rusher Adisa Isaac going to the Atlanta Falcons in the second round with the 43rd pick. Isaac led Penn State last year in tackles for loss (16) and sacks (7.5) and was a team captain. He was voted to the All-Big Ten first team by a conference media panel and to the second team by the coaches.

Reuter has the Houston Texans taking tight end Theo Johnson in the third round with the 86th pick. Johnson caught 34 passes for 341 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He helped improve his stock with his performance at the combine, where he ran a 4.57 in the 40, the second-fastest among tight ends.

Five other Penn State players are included in Reuter's mock draft: linebacker Curtis Jacobs, fourth round, Houston; center Hunter Nourzad, fifth round, Jacksonville; cornerback Kalen King, fifth round, Philadelphia; offensive tackle Caedan Wallace, fifth round, San Francisco; and cornerback Daequan Hardy, sixth round, Buffalo.

Cornerback Johnny Dixon, safety Keaton Ellis, running back Trey Potts and kicker Alex Felkins are available, but Reuter did not include them in his mock draft.