With the Detroit Lions taking Anthony Zettel with their sixth-round pick and the Miami Dolphins selecting Jordan Lucas two picks later, it solidified Penn State having five draft picks selected for the 26th time in program history. Post-draft, Kyle Carter and Trevor Williams signed undrafted free agent deals with the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers respectively.
Zettel became a national name as a junior with a campaign that saw him have 17 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
The 6-foot 4-inch Zettel’s breakout junior season included the defensive end being the only FBS player ranked among the national leaders in sacks and interceptions per game as a defensive tackle. Zettel became the first Penn State defensive lineman to record at least three interceptions since 1959.
Zettel, a West Branch, Mich. native, persevered through the loss of his father during the fall of his senior season. The senior defensive end finished with 10-plus solo tackles in each of his four seasons as he bounced back to defensive end for the first time since 2013. A key cog in a defensive line that saw two members taken earlier in the draft in Austin Johnson (Titans second round) and Carl Nassib (Browns third round), Zettel finished with 20 solo tackles to go along with four sacks.
The 202nd pick in this year’s draft, Zettel returns home to Michigan to play for the hometown team. He became the first Nittany Lion taken by the Lions since Derrick Williams was drafted in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
“Anthony has always been willing to sacrifice for the good of the team, and that is a trait that will serve him well in the NFL. His unique athleticism and explosiveness make him a very intriguing prospect at a number of positions,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said in a statement.
Zettel, who graduated in December with a degree in Kinesiology, leaves Penn State tied for seventh in team history with 20 career sacks and 10th with 38 career tackles for loss.
After amassing 46 games in the secondary for the Nittany Lions defensive unit, Jordan Lucas found his name called by the Miami Dolphins with the 204th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Reliability was the name of the game for Lucas throughout his Penn State career a,s he appeared in 40 consecutive games before an injury sidelined him in Nov. 2015. As a senior, Lucas had three pass breakups and three passes defended to go along with 56 total tackles in nine games.
“He is a student of the game that has a tremendous skill set as a defensive back. He’s a physical player that tackles and covers man-to-man well. He plays the game with great passion,” Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith said of the newly drafted Lucas.
As a sophomore and junior, Lucas earned All-Big Ten honorable mention accolades from conference coaches. In his sophomore campaign, Lucas led the team with three interceptions and 13 pass breakups, as well as 64 total tackles. The junior campaign for Lucas, saw the defensive back accumulate 58 total tackles, two sacks and nine pass breakups.
Lucas joins former teammate Mike Hull as well as former Nittany Lion standout Cameron Wake in South Beach for the Dolphins.
Cornerback Trevor Williams became the sixth member of the 2015 Nittany Lion team to be signed or drafted by an NFL team.
A valuable member of the Penn State secondary, Williams started 31 of the 49 games he appeared in throughout his career. A two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention, Williams had 33 tackles, three pass breakups and four passes defended as a senior.
Williams was also named the Ridge Riley Memorial Award winner that is awarded to the senior member of the team that exhibits the core values of sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship.
“Trevor was a mainstay on our defense for three seasons. His speed, length and intelligence will give him a chance to continue his career. He earned his degree in just three and a half years while leading our defense with a quiet confidence,” Franklin said.
According to Kyle Carter’s personal Twitter account, the former Penn State tight end has signed as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings.
— Kyle Carter (@KCarter_87) April 30, 2016
Carter capped off his four-year career with the Nittany Lions by earning his fourth Academic All-Big Ten honor. The Bear, Del. native was selected as the Quarterback Club Award winner for the student-athlete who deserves special recognition.
The most memorable of Carter’s four career touchdown receptions came in the 2014 New Era Pinstripe Bowl. A junior at the time, Carter hauled in the game-tying touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the corner of the end zone to set up Sam Ficken’s game-winning extra point against Boston College.
Carter finished his Penn State career with 963 receiving yards on 84 receptions to go along with his four touchdown receptions.