As the 2023 NFL season approaches, fans and experts alike are buzzing with anticipation to see which former Penn State Football standouts will rise to the occasion and leave their mark on the league.
In this exclusive power rankings article, we will unveil the top 10 Penn State players poised to dominate the upcoming NFL season.
Arguably the biggest debate of all, when it comes to former Penn State Football stars in the NFL, is whether dynamic New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley or dominant defensive playmaker, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, will sit atop the list.
Beyond the Barkley–Parsons debate, this list will feature other prolific Penn State alumni who are set to make significant impacts in the NFL. From explosive wide receivers to dominant defensive linemen, these individuals possess the skills, athleticism, and determination to leave opponents in awe and solidify their place among the league’s elite.
Let the debate begin, and let their performances on the field ultimately decide who will reign supreme as the No. 1 player on this list.
Ranking Top 10 Penn State Football Players in The NFL For 2023 Season
10. Allen Robinson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Allen Robinson, 29, might be entering the twilight of his NFL career, but enters a unique opportunity, back in the Keystone State, to play a vital role in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ passing offense.
Coming off a somewhat disappointing 2022 campaign that saw Robinson catch just 33 passes for 339 yards with 3 touchdowns, Robinson has the chance to transition into the role of young quarterback Kenny Pickett’s possession receiver, in a receiving corps that includes dynamic young playmaker George Pickens.
9. Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders
Jahan Dotson didn’t waste any time making a legitimate impact as a rookie, while living up to his billing as a first-round pick of the Washington Commanders in the 2022 NFL Draft. Dotson made highlight-reel catches look routine, while catching 35 passes for 523 yards with 7 touchdowns last season.
Jahan Dotson was absolutely flying in the Commanders last game of the season pic.twitter.com/tLyvwcSzKg
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) May 18, 2023
Playing opposite All-Pro Terry McLaurin, Dotson rounds out one of the NFL’s more prolific receiving duos. The fact that Commanders quarterbacks had a 102.9 passer rating when targeting Dotson as a rookie underscore how lofty his ceiling can be in his second NFL season.
8. Mike Gesicki, TE, New England Patriots
Landing with the New England Patriots, as one of the more underrated moves of the NFL offseason, Gesicki reunites with Bill O’Brien, who recruited him to Happy Valley, where he’ll have the chance to step up as quarterback Mac Jones’ security blanket in Foxboro. Gesicki aims to prove his 32-reception for 362 yards with 5 touchdowns was an anomaly in 2022.
7. Jaquan Brisker, S, Chicago Bears
— Matt Lombardo 🏈 (@MattLombardoNFL) May 12, 2023
Brisker flashed his trademark versatility both playing center field in coverage and throwing his weight around near the line of scrimmage, in run support, as a rookie. Last season, Brisker produced 4.0 sacks, 104 total tackles, intercepted one pass, forced a fumble, and recovered a fumble.
After the Bears invested significant resources in the front-seven this offseason, don’t be surprised if Brisker is even more prolific in coverage in 2023.
6. Odafe Oweh, EDGE, Baltimore Ravens
5. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Freiermuth is one of the ascending young tight ends in the NFL, and has the opportunity to become quarterback Kenny Pickett’s security blanket in Pittsburgh.
Expect the Steelers to roll out significantly more two-tight end sets this season, after choosing Georgia’s Darnell Washington in the third-round of the NFL Draft. But, Freiermuth’s consistency, only dropping three passes last season, should vault him near the top of Pickett’s target hierarchy.
4. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Injuries have wreaked havoc on Chris Godwin’s career, but he remains one of the premier slot receivers across the entire league.
Sharing a receiving corps with field-stretcher Mike Evans certainly creates opportunities for Godwin, who is aiming for his third consecutive 1,000-plus receiving yard season in 2023. Last season, Godwin pulled down a career-high 104 receptions for 1,023 yards with 3 touchdowns. Baker. Mayfield’s effectiveness might hold the key to Godwin’s continued consistency.
3. Miles Sanders, RB, Carolina Panthers
Not only does a reunion with former Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley offer a potential for Sanders to build on a career-high 1,269-yard and 11 touchdown campaign in 2022, but with rookie quarterback Bryce Young behind center, expect a boatload of touches for the former Nittany Lions star.
2. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
After playing an instrumental role in the New York Giants’ first playoff victory since 2011, during a season in which he rushed for a career-high 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns, Saquon Barkley reclaimed his place among the NFL’s truly elite running backs.
Giants head coach Brian Daboll astutely realized, what predecessors Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge failed to in New York, the value of creating space for Barkley and getting the ball in his hands in the open-field, and was rewarded handsomely for that commitment.
Saquon Barkley, welcome to the playoffs!!pic.twitter.com/w1fecLuLmo
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 15, 2023
Barkley, currently embroiled in a contract dispute after the Giants placed the franchise tag on him this spring, will need to prove that he’s as explosive as ever, that he can stay healthy and on the field, and that he has no ill-effects from a 352-touch 2022 campaign if he is going to continue to be a game-changer in the NFL.
1. Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys
Few players in the NFL are as consistently dominant, disruptive, and cause offensive coordinators to lose as much sleep as Micah Parsons.
Parsons, the 2021 Defensive Rookie of The Year, continues to ascend among the most dominant defensive players of his generation. Through the first two seasons of his career, Parsons has produced 26.5 sacks with 149 total tackles.
This season, the Dallas Cowboys plan to truly unleash Parsons on opposing quarterbacks, moving him full-time to defensive end, his natural position. That’s awful news for the rest of the NFL, but as his first two seasons have shown, the move could raise Parsons’ ceiling significantly higher in 2023 and beyond.