(WIVB) — In the late rounds of the NFL Draft, front offices are always looking to find those “diamonds in the rough.”
One of them this year might just be PJ Mustipher, a big defensive lineman coming out of Penn State.
Mustipher was a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions and recorded a career-high 38 tackles this past season, helping Penn State to an 11-2 record and a win in the Rose Bowl against Utah.
Standing 6’4″ and weighing in at 320 pounds, he has the size and ability to stop the run, which scouts believe he is best suited to do, especially on early downs. That ability got him second team All-Big Ten nods in both 2021 and 2022.
He did it in 2022 after coming back for a fifth year after he tore his ACL in the seventh game of the season in 2021, ending his season.
He said playing at Penn State, which has had one of the better defensive units in the country the past few years, gives him a foundation of what is to come.
“I got the opportunity to play on a ton of stacked defenses. There are guys in the NFL that have been balling for years that I played with when I first got there and throughout my time just being around special talent makes you elevate your game and that’s the type of environment I want to go to when I play in the NFL I want to be around guys who understand what their goals are,” Mustipher said.
In 2022, he was part of a Nittany Lions squad that won double digit games for the first time since 2019 and won 11 games for the fourth time in the James Franklin era. He said that type of winning environment will help him in the NFL.
“They want to win that wanna compete every day they have fun with the game and just love it overall and so that was the environment at Penn State and I want to be in that same environment when I get to the NFL,” he said.
One player he likes watching is a former Nittany Lion and current Bill Daquan Jones.
“I watched a ton of Bills games this past year just his get off the way he strikes he doesn’t let any of the centers get their snap off before he’s in their chest so just understanding how quick he is off the ball. The first step is really important in my game and so I definitely look at that,” Mustipher said.
Mustipher likely isn’t going to be selected until Day 3 of the draft, but with his liking of Jones and the connections between the Pegula family and Penn State, he might just be trying to make a name for himself in training camp this summer.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.
Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more here.