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Penn State football: James Franklin’s impressive quarterback NFL Draft streak continues

The Penn State football QB draft streak, which has lived on throughout James Franklin’s tenure, survived the 2023 NFL Draft.



Penn State football, Sean Clifford, NFL Draft, James Franklin
Nov 6, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) and head coach James Franklin react after a successful fourth quarter field goal against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

James Franklin has an impressive NFL Draft streak since taking over as the head coach of Penn State football in 2014. Throughout his nine-year tenure, Franklin has had three starting quarterbacks: Christian Hackenberg, Trace McSorley, and Sean Clifford. With Green Bay selecting Clifford in this year’s draft, Franklin’s streak of quarterbacks being drafted will extend into the Drew Allar era, which is set to commence this fall against West Virginia.

Penn State football produces third NFL Draft pick QB during James Franklin era

To say that James Franklin inherited a difficult situation with Penn State football in 2014 would be an understatement. Despite this, he managed to secure a reliable quarterback in Christian Hackenberg and put together consecutive winning seasons with the Nittany Lions during their sanctioned years in 2014 and 2015. Hackenberg, the first quarterback of the James Franklin era, was selected by the New York Jets in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

This pick marked the start of an impressive streak under Franklin’s leadership, with two more of his quarterbacks being drafted since then.

Trace McSorley drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft

After capping off his successful career with Penn State football in 2018 by leading the Nittany Lions to their third consecutive 9-win season and a ranked finish, standout quarterback Trace McSorley was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 197th overall pick in Round 6 of the NFL Draft. Despite achieving great success as a college quarterback, winning 31 games, a New Year’s Six bowl, and a Big Ten title, among other accolades, McSorley has yet to find his footing in the NFL. He was recently acquired by New England Patriots.

Sean Clifford drafted in 2023 NFL Draft

Sean Clifford spent six seasons with the Penn State football program, from 2017 to 2022, before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round (149th overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft. As Penn State’s starting quarterback since 2019, Clifford led the Nittany Lions to two top 10 finishes and two New Year’s Six bowl wins. In his final game as a Nittany Lion, Clifford delivered one of the best performances of his college career, leading Penn State to a 14-point victory over No. 8 Utah in the 2023 Rose Bowl.

The selection of Clifford in the draft extended James Franklin’s impressive streak of having his quarterbacks drafted into the Drew Allar era, which is set to begin this fall against West Virginia.

Can Franklin make it four in a row?

As the James Franklin era of Penn State football enters its 10th year, rising true sophomore Drew Allar is poised to take over as the Nittany Lions’ new starting quarterback this fall. Allar, who was rated as a five-star recruit by the 247 Sports Composite and ranked as the top QB in the nation, possesses an NFL-ready frame and a wealth of talent. At the very least, Penn State football fans will have Allar for two seasons: 2023 and 2024. Beyond that, there is a possibility that Allar may declare early for the 2025 NFL Draft. If he does, and is subsequently drafted, James Franklin would have successfully put all four of his starting quarterbacks into the NFL via the draft, though this still remains to be seen.

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