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greg-van-roten
Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez/Panthers

It is now officially past Week 9 in the NFL season, which means we’re over halfway through, and we now have a pretty good idea of how the League will shape up.

But what does this mean for the Penn alumni in the league? Penn has three alumni currently in the NFL: Justin Watson, Brandon Copeland, and Greg Van Roten.

Watson, a 2018 graduate, is currently a wide receiver with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After being a three-time All-Ivy League selection and a two-time Ivy League Champion at Penn, he was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Watson played mostly special teams in the 12 games he appeared in his rookie season. His first NFL catch came against the Cincinnati Bengals, and went for five yards. 

This season, Watson has played all eight games and has made one reception, a 13-yard catch against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 29. Watson has again made most of his impact on special teams. With fellow wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both in the top-five nationwide in receiving yards, there have not been many opportunities for other receivers. Watson is currently the fifth receiver on the depth chart, and is not expected to play much barring injury.

Mike Carlson/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Copeland, a 2012 graduate, is an outside linebacker for the New York Jets who first debuted with the Ravens in 2013. After a breakout season with the Jets a year ago, Copeland served a four-game suspension after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Copeland is suing the supplement company he was a customer of, saying contaminated supplements led to his suspension.

After being reinstated on Oct. 7, Copeland played fewer than 40% of the Jets' defensive snaps for the next three weeks before returning to form last week against the Miami Dolphins. Against the Dolphins, Copeland played every defensive snap and recorded a team-high nine tackles and a sack. Copeland will look to build on his most recent outing to claim a starting spot in the Jets lineup.

Photo from the New York Jets

Van Roten, who also graduated in 2012, has started every game at guard for the Carolina Panthers. Much of the Panthers' success this season has come from the team's successful run game, as Van Roten and his fellow offensive linemen have helped block for the league's per game rushing yards leader in Christian McCaffrey. Van Roten has not missed an offensive snap for the Panthers since 2017. According to Pro Football Focus, Van Roten has allowed just one sack all season. 

As the second half of the season gets under way, keep your eye out for these Quakers shining on the gridiron.

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