Scouting the Big Ten: Penn State

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Penn State has the program back on track and will once again compete for the Big Ten title in 2017. The roster is also beginning to fill up with talented first and second-day draft picks.

Saquon Barkley is one of the highest-rated running backs in the nation, and with good reason. He’s a nice-sized ball carrier with vision, burst and power. Barkley also has excellent short-area quickness with the ability to make defenders miss.

Though I like Barkley, I’m not ready to stamp him as top-10 selection just yet. He’s good but doesn’t excite me the way former top-10 ball carriers have in the past.

One exciting prospect on defense is pass rusher Torrence Brown.

A terrific athlete with great edge speed and agility, Brown makes a lot of plays in the backfield but also shows the speed and quickness to change direction and make plays in space.

I believe he’s top-45 material and will get looks as a one-gap defensive end or 3-4 linebacker.

Redshirt sophomore Ryan Bates is an impressive offensive line prospect. Strong and stout, he manhandles defenders in one-on-one blocking and hold his own at the second level.

Tight end Mike Gesicki was stamped as a potential first-rounder in our mock draft this past May, though after watching the film it’s apparent 40 times will determine how early he’s selected in the draft.

Gesicki is a huge target and a tight end who impresses as a blocker and pass catcher. He makes a lot of athletic receptions on the field and controls defenders as a run blocker.

A good senior season coupled with 40 times under 4.75 will result in Gesicki receiving top-40 consideration.

Jason Cabinda doesn’t measure up for the tape (under 6-foot-1), but he's a terrific three-down linebacker who stacks well against the run, effectively plays in space against the pass or runs ball handlers down in pursuit.

I’m told scouts feel he’s a late-round prospect but I gave Cabinda a fourth-round grade.