Garrett Sickels, one of Penn State’s best pass rushers and a two-year starter on the defensive line, might be one of the few former Nittany Lions to hear their names called in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Sickels, who left college with one year of eligibility remaining, had a solid college career. He won’t be a first-round pick, but he could provide some back-end depth for a team in the later rounds of the draft. Here are some things you should know about the defensive end.
Who is Garrett Sickels? 5 things to know:
1. Sickels was one of Penn State’s best defensive players in 2016.
The Nittany Lions had a season to remember in 2016. From the blocked field-goal return for a touchdown to beat Ohio State, to the appearance in the Rose Bowl, Sickels was a key part of the Penn State defense.
Sickels led the Nittany Lions in tackles for loss (12.5), tied for the team lead in sacks (6.0) and was seventh on the team in tackles (47) last season. Among his team-leading 6 sacks, 2.5 came during Penn State’s upset of Ohio State in October.
— Bradley Ylitalo (@NFL_drafthub) March 16, 2017
Sickels may not be the best defensive end prospect in the draft, but his early departure will sting for Penn State in 2017.
2. Sickels stuck with Penn State, despite NCAA sanctions.
One of the toughest times to be a Nittany Lion was the summer of 2011, after the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked the Penn State community. Sickels, who committed in March 2012, never wavered in his decision to come to State College.
In an interview with 247Sports, Sickels explained why he stuck with Penn State.
— ChiTownLionPSU (@ChiTownLionPSU) March 9, 2017
Sickels said he faced that same questions at the NFL combine, and gave the same answer.
3. The defensive end is projected as a late-round pick.
While there are only three Penn State prospects listed on NFL.com’s draft board, Sickels is teetering between hearing his name called on the final day of the draft and signing as a undrafted free agent after the draft ends. While Sickels’ stats at Penn State were impressive, they might not be enough to guarantee that his name gets called at the podium.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 6, 2017
If you look closely at that photo shared by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Sickels is projected by ESPN’s Todd McShay to be selected by the sixth round of the draft.
CBS Sports ranks Sickels as the 251st-best prospect in the draft. CBS also projects that Sickels will go in the seventh round.
4. Sickels might end up in the Big Apple.
Sickels hails from Red Bank, N.J., and he may find himself close to home after the NFL draft. According to David Wyatt of SB Nation, Sickels met with the New York Jets at the NFL combine and Penn State’s pro day.
#Jets showing a ton of interest in Garrett Sickles from Penn State. Met at combine, were at pro day today and spent time with him there.
— David Wyatt (@DavidWyattNFL) March 16, 2017
Although the Jets use a 3-4 base defense, it’s possible they could be thinking about changing the the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Sickels from a defensive end to a linebacker.
5. Sickels absolutely tore up the high school scene.
There’s a reason why Sickels was rated as a 4-star recruit coming out of Red Bank Regional High School. He earned all-state honors twice, was named Divisional Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, played in the New York vs. New Jersey All-Star Game, and was selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Sickels registered 194 tackles, 25 sacks and 8 blocked kicks in his high school career. He was ranked as the third-best high school prospect in New Jersey by Rivals.com.