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Draft preview: PSU's Wisniewski excited; Royster projection; analyst disses Devlin

April 28, 2011 - Cory Giger
Stefen Wisniewski is excited and relaxed -- not nervous -- as he waits to hear his name called in the NFL draft Friday night.

Wisniewski is widely projected to be a second-round pick, and the offensive lineman will be the first Penn State player taken in the draft.

"That's what I'm expecting, that's what I've heard from several different NFL teams that are picking in the second round that they'd love to have me," Wisniewski said Thursday. "So that's what I'm looking at as a worst-case scenario. But you never know; the draft is a crazy thing."

Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout for Ourlads NFL Scouting Services, believes Wisniewski will go in the second round.

"If he fell to the third it'd be a steal for somebody," Shonka said. "We really like him. He's a terrific football player. He is actually our top-rated center. We've got Michael Pouncey as either our top center or guard, but if you put Pouncey at guard, then Wisniewski's our top center."

That he not only can but has played both guard and center gives Wisniewski the kind of versatility NFL teams crave. He spent most of his career at guard for the Nittany Lions but was the starting center his junior season in 2009.

"The NFL scouts and offensive line coaches really like that versatility," Wisniewski said. "It's big because you want to have a guy that can jump in at any spot. It's different, too, because a lot of guys might have played guard in college and are being projected as a center but have never played it."

Wisniewski also has all sorts of tangibles and intangibles in his favor.

"Great DNA bloodlines, uses his hands well, second level he'll seal off the linebackers, very smart guy," Shonka said.

A three-time Academic All-American, Wisniewski can impress teams in the meeting room as well as on the field.

"They're gonna look at film first and foremost," he said, "but I think the interview can really set you apart. I think it's things like that that really -- it kind of sounds weird -- but a team kind of falls in love with you. And if they really like the whole person and not just the football player, then that's the kind of person they're gonna want to invest a lot of money in."

Wisniewski said about five or six teams showed a lot of interest in him leading up to the draft, although he didn't specify which ones.

He grew up in Pittsburgh, and there's a chance the Steelers may be interested in him at the end of the second round -- if he falls that far.

"I did grow up a Steelers fan, and that certainly would be pretty cool," Wisniewski said. "I also grew up a Raiders fan, though, because my uncle [Steve] played for the Raiders as I was growing up. So either of those teams would be special for me.

"But at the same time, I really don't have any allegiance to any team at this point. I'm excited to go wherever and start a new life with a new team."

Knowing that at some point today he will be an NFL player gave Wisniewski reason to reflect on his football life.

"It's pretty cool just sitting thinking about all the work that's gone into it -- going back to playing football in middle school and thinking about all the weights you've lifted, all the practices, all the teammates you've played with, all the coaches that have helped shape you," he said. "It's really a pretty humbling thing to think about how much has gone into it and to see it get rewarded."

SUBHD: Other PSU ties

Running back Evan Royster, the Lions' career rushing leader, is not expected to be drafted until the later rounds, if at all.

"We've got him in the sixth or seventh round area," Shonka said.

Royster generally has been ranked as no better than the 20th best running back in the draft.

"I don't think he's drafted," Rob Brewer of said. "There are so many running backs I would pick over Royster. He doesn't have anything exceptional to his game."

Defensive lineman Ollie Ogbu has a chance to get drafted in the later rounds, as well.

Former PSU quarterback Pat Devlin, who transferred to Delaware, has seen his stock drop lately and is projected to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

"He's got the size, he's got pretty good arm strength, he's a smart guy, he manages the offense very well," Shonka said. "He does a lot of things. I think he's definitely a developmental quarterback."

Brewer wasn't so flattering in his comments about Devlin.

"He lost the starting job to Daryll Clark," he said. "Where is Daryll Clark? He's in the CFL. You couldn't beat that guy out for a starting position? And then you transfer to an FCS school? That doesn't say a whole lot for his pro potential.

"It's not like he was stuck at USC where they had Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassell and Carson Palmer and you just couldn't play because there's so much talent at that position. You couldn't beat out Daryll Clark, how are you gonna make an NFL roster? I just don't see it."


(NOTE: I don't agree with Brewer on Devlin, but one reason I use him as an analyst is he's not afraid to be politically incorrect. For those who say his thoughts are ridiculous -- and I've already heard from some of you -- I ask: Could there be some truth to what he's saying?

And for the record, I've always thought Clark did a fine job at PSU. He went 22-4 and led the team to the Rose Bowl and a Capital One Bowl victory. I judge him based on what he did in college, not on what he hasn't done in the pros.)

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