Penn State Nittany Lions' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

Written by:
February 24, 2022
Doug Pensinger // Getty Images

Penn State Nittany Lions' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

While most colleges and universities field a football team as part of its general athletics program, there are some for which football is more than merely a sport—it’s akin almost to a religion. Devotion to the team and its colors is as important to that school’s culture as a religious icon is to a believer. These programs actively scout and recruit notable high school players, and are in turn rigorously applied to by matriculating seniors eager to make a name for themselves at the collegiate level.

Among the most notable college football empires are Notre Dame, the universities of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State—the list goes on and on.

But for every touchstone football school, there is an outlier that has produced some of the most successful and cherished players in the game. Think Jackson State, which gave us “Sweetness” himself, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Or Mississippi Valley State, which yielded 3-time Super Bowl champion and #1 Player in NFL History, as voted by the NFL Network, ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Each year, the college draft serves as a source of renewal to professional football and a testament to the quality of college programs nationwide. With the 2022 NFL draft set to take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks from the Penn State Nittany Lions using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Aaron Maybin (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #11 overall in 2009
- Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#19. John Cappelletti (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #11 overall in 1974
- Drafted by: Los Angeles Rams
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#18. Keith Dorney (T)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #10 overall in 1979
- Drafted by: Detroit Lions
- Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (1 Pro Bowls)

#17. Kyle Brady (TE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #9 overall in 1995
- Drafted by: NY Jets
- Years as a starter in NFL: 13 (0 Pro Bowls)

#16. Shane Conlan (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 1987
- Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
- Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (3 Pro Bowls)

#15. Ed O'Neil (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 1974
- Drafted by: Detroit Lions
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#14. Mike Munchak (G)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 1982
- Drafted by: Houston Texans
- Years as a starter in NFL: 11 (9 Pro Bowls)

#13. Todd Blackledge (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #7 overall in 1983
- Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#12. Mike Reid (DT)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #7 overall in 1970
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (2 Pro Bowls)

#11. Levi Brown (T)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 2007
- Drafted by: Arizona Cardinals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#10. Curtis Enis (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 1998
- Drafted by: Chicago Bears
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#9. Kerry Collins (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 1995
- Drafted by: Carolina Panthers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 11 (2 Pro Bowls)

#8. Kenny Jackson (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #4 overall in 1984
- Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#7. Bruce Clark (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #4 overall in 1980
- Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (1 Pro Bowls)

#6. Curt Warner (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #3 overall in 1983
- Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (3 Pro Bowls)

#5. Saquon Barkley (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 2018
- Drafted by: NY Giants
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (1 Pro Bowls)

#4. Blair Thomas (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 1990
- Drafted by: NY Jets
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#3. LaVar Arrington (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 2000
- Drafted by: Washington Football Team
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (3 Pro Bowls)

#2. Ki-Jana Carter (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 1995
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#1. Courtney Brown (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 2000
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

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