Penn State Draft Breakdown: Defense

Gorge yourself on loads of information and binge watch videos of the Nittany Lions who are angling for NFL jobs.

Is it just us, or is it feeling a little drafty around here?

In case you somehow missed it, the NFL Draft starts Thursday night and runs through late Saturday afternoon. And there are a host of former Penn State players hoping to hear their names called.

We're no draft gurus. But we have seen these guys play a lot of football. So we think we have a good feel for how they project at the next level.

Read on as we offer player-by-player analysis of the former Nittany Lions, starting with the men who played defense for PSU. We include video interviews of the players we were able to track down at Penn State Pro Day.

S Adrian Amos

Height: 6-0.5

Weight: 215

40: 4.37 (Pro Day)

Bench: 21 reps (Pro Day)

Comments: Size? Check. Speed? Check. Versatility? After starting at corner and safety in his PSU career, check. Mel Kiper's stamp of approval? Amos attended the same high school as Kiper (Calvert Hall in Baltimore), and the ESPN draft guru has been following him forever. So, check. The knocks on Amos are that he is not much of a playmaker (he only had seven career interceptions and 19 pass breakups despite starting three years) and that he is something of a tweener -- meaning he lacks the ideal skill set to be a top safety or corner.

Prediction: This is a weak safety class, which will help Amos. Expect him to go in the fourth round but don't be surprised if he is taken in the third.

DE Deion Barnes

Height: 6-4

Weight: 257

40: 4.95 (Pro Day)

Bench: 31 reps (Pro Day)

Comments: Barnes was invited to the Senior Bowl, but then did not receive an NFL Combine invite -- and that's never a good sign. So he needed a great Pro Day to boost his stock, and while his 31 reps of 225 were good, his 4.95 40 was not exactly eye-popping for an undersized edge rusher. And that's the primary issue here. Barnes finished his career with solid numbers of 14 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss. But he had fewer than 100 total tackles and had no fumble recoveries nor interceptions. So he is not an elite pass rusher, he's never done very well in run support and he's never been asked to line up as an OLB in a 3-4. Hardly the resume you'd expect from an early entry into the draft. The good news is, he has already earned his degree, so there is a good fallback option there.

Prediction: We'll go with the seventh round. But he is another guy who might benefit from being a priority free agent, so he could pick a team where he fits best.

DE Brad Bars

Height: 261

Weight: 6-3

40: NA

Bench: 26 reps (Pro Day)

Comments: A finance grad and Academic All-District pick, Bars surely realized the odds of him making an NFL roster are extremely long. But he's giving it a shot, and why not? Injuries prevented his PSU career from ever really taking off. But when he did play, he was a solid backup and seemed to enjoy doing whatever he could on special teams. That included blocking a punt vs. Illinois in 2011 and rushing for 32 yards on a fake punt against the Illini last fall.

Prediction: He'll have to survive a free-agent tryout to make it to a camp.

LB Mike Hull

Height: 5-11.7

Weight: 237

40: 4.64 (Pro Day)

Bench: 31 (NFL Combine)

Comments: Shortly after the 2014 season, Hull had minor knee surgery to remove loose parts of his meniscus. That, coupled with his lack of size, will work against him. Otherwise, there is a lot to like here. He is extremely strong, moves well and has great instincts, which allowed him to lead the Big Ten in tackles last season. He has manned all three linebacker positions at Penn State, and made plays at each. He's a strong blitzer and good (though not great) in coverage. Also, he was a special teams stalwart for the Nittany Lions. Hull does not project as an immediate starter at the next level, but he has the tools to be a versatile utility man who can stick in the league as long as he stays healthy.

Prediction: If not for the knee surgery, Hull could have climbed into the upper half of the draft. But we see him going in the fifth round now.

DE C.J. Olaniyan

Height: 6-3.4

Weight: 253

40: NA

Bench: 22

Comments: Though not much of a pass rusher (he had only three sacks last season), Olaniyan was pretty good against the run. He finished his career with 107 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries, two fumbles caused and an interception. He was kind of the opposite of Barnes, in that regard. He has a very long build but is not particularly athletic, which will work against him. Like Barnes, it is difficult to project Olaniyan as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.

Prediction: He'll get a good look as a priority free agent.

DT Tyrone Smith

Height: 6-3.6

Weight: 288

40: NA

Bench: 22 (Pro Day)

Comments: Smith made the climb from walk-on to second-teamer at defensive tackle thanks to a terrific work ethic and good quickness for his size. We're not sure how far that can take him while trying to make it at the next level, though. Smith finished his career with only 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and half a sack. Like some other former Lions this year, he is taking a shot at his dream, and we respect him for that.

Prediction: Smith had tough luck at Pro Day, as he came up limping during a 40-yard dash. His best hope is to earn a free-agent tryout, but that is far from a certainty.

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