Keep your eye on locals in NFL Draft, but not in 1st round
Since the turn of the century, a player from either Penn State, West Virginia or Pitt has been chosen in the first round of all but three NFL drafts.
It started in 2000 with defensive end Courtney Brown and linebacker LaVar Arrington of Penn State and West Virginia tight end Anthony Becht. Last season, the New York Giants chose PSU running back Saquon Barkley No. 2 overall.
The Nittany Lions also had a historic class in 2003 when four players from a 9-4 team — defensive ends Jimmy Kennedy and Michael Haynes, wide receiver Bryant Johnson and running back Larry Johnson — were chosen between picks 12 and 27.
Pitt’s first-rounders, dating from 1961-2014, include some of the greatest players in NFL history – Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Bill Fralic, Chris Doleman, Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis and Aaron Donald.
The years when Penn State, WVU and Pitt had no one taken in the first round are 2001, 2002 and 2017. After Thursday night’s first round, you probably can add 2019 to the list.
That doesn’t mean you won’t hear some familiar names called out Friday and Saturday during the second and third days of the draft.
There are at least seven players each from Penn State and West Virginia who are expected to be taken between the second and seventh rounds, or sign as undrafted free agents.
Pitt had 13 players work out for NFL personnel March 20 at its practice facility. Running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall – the first pair of backs to gain 1,000 yards in the same season in school history — are the strongest candidates to be drafted. Some of the others will get strong consideration as free agents.
Area high schools from Aliquippa to Altoona also will be represented. Here’s a rundown of the candidates.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .