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Who Soared and Who Stumbled at the NFL Combine

A few Nittany Lions generated some buzz, and made money, at the Scouting Combine.

Penn State capped the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine with more strong 40-yard-dash times (including one from its punter) and a few injuries that merit a watchful eye. In all, the Lions compiled a successful Combine but still have plenty to improve.

Receiver Jahan Dotson got things started nicely, then Penn State's defensive standouts took over. In particular, linebacker Brandon Smith and end Arnold Ebiketie put together strong testing resumes.

One note: Offensive lineman Rasheed Walker did not test in Indianapolis, likely because of the late-season injury that caused him to miss the last three games. We'll see everyone again at Penn State's Pro Day on March 24.

Until then, here's a recap of Penn State at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Defensive backs shine Sunday

Penn State capped the Combine assertively, as cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields and safety Jaquan Brisker tested well Sunday.

Castro-Fields was Penn State's fastest player in Indianapolis, running a 4.38 40-yard dash, tied for fifth-best among cornerbacks. For a 6-1 cornerback, that's a tempting combination of size and speed.

Brisker, meanwhile, demonstrated a versatile athletic skillset to complement his size (6-1, 199 pounds):

  • 40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds (11th among safeties)
  • Bench press: 22 reps (2nd)
  • Vertical jump: 34.5 inches (12th)
  • Broad jump: 10-4 (T-6)

Brisker might have run faster but for a lower-back issue, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Jesse Luketa shines before an apparent injury

Linebacker Jesse Luketa was putting together a strong testing day before seizing on his second 40-yard dash. Still, Luketa gutted across the finish line before getting treatment.

Prior to that, Luketa ran a respectable 4.89 (for a 253-pound end/linebacker hybrid), tied teammate Brandon Smith in the vertical jump (37.5) and hit 9-6 in the broad jump.

There was no word regarding the extent of Luketa's injury. He has a few weeks to heal before returning to Penn State for Pro Day.

Brandon Smith excels, as expected

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah predicted an impressive Combine from linebacker Brandon Smith, who demonstrated his athleticism quite often at Penn State. Smith certainly tested well among his fellow linebackers, tying for fourth in the 40 and tying for fifth in the broad jump.

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Here's a look at Smith's numbers:

  • Height/weight: 6-3.5, 250 pounds
  • 40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds (T-4 among linebackers)
  • Broad jump: 10-8 (T-5)
  • Vertical jump: 37.5 inches (T-7)

Like many players, Smith did not test in the bench press, probably saving that for Pro Day. And a 250-pound linebacker running a 4.52 40-yard dash probably is comfortable allowing that time to stand.

Smith continued the recent trend of phenomenally athletic defensive players coming out of Penn State. Though he didn't match Micah Parsons and Odafe Oweh, Smith has proven to teams that he can cover a lot of ground defensively.

However, as Jeremiah said, Smith is a "work in progress" technically, particularly considering as a tackler. That will constrain him as a two-round prospect.

Two sneaky-good numbers from Arnold Ebiketie

Ebiketie, seeking to make his case as an edge rusher, tested exceptionally well in two explosion metrics: the vertical jump and broad jump. More importantly, he showed some wow factor during the on-field drills.

Ebiketie, who raved about his time at Penn State during his media session, finished second in both the vertical jump (38 inches) and broad jump (10-8). He did not run the 40 and benched 21 times at 225 pounds, a top-10 number for edge rushers.

That alone helped Ebiketie draw attention. His on-field workout generated even more buzz.

Ebiketie is poised to be one of Penn State's great success stories of the past few seasons.

Jordan Stout can run

How about this from the Big Ten punter of the year: Stout ran a 4.65 40-yard dash, the second-best time among specialists. Granted, only four ran, but Stout demonstrated a lot of spark in running. He's positioning himself as a draftable punter in April.

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Recapping Jahan Dotson's week at the NFL Scouting Combine

Arnold Ebiketie says Penn State provided the 'perfect seasoning' to his career

Freshmen making a quick impact at Penn State

AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the network.