Michigan State Football: Ranking the 3 best current Spartans in the NFL

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Jack Conklin, Michigan State football (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

3. Jack Conklin, OT, Cleveland Browns

Jack Conklin is one of Mark Dantonio’s best success stories.

Starting his time in East Lansing as a walk-on, zero-star tackle out of Plainwell, Mich., Conklin worked as hard as he could to earn a scholarship.

Starting 38 total games as a Spartan, 13 of them as a redshirt freshman in 2013, Conklin earned All-Big Ten and All-American honors throughout his career. In his junior season, he only allowed two sacks and committed only two penalties. While he skipped his senior year, he still ended his Spartan career as one of the best offensive linemen in MSU history.

Conklin declared for the NFL draft in 2016, and was selected No. 8 overall by the Tennessee Titans, who traded up to take him. He quickly became a starter his rookie year, and had an impressive start to his NFL career. He was selected as a first team All-Pro, as well as being selected as a Pro Bowl alternate.

Pro Football Focus gave him a 88.9 overall grade, which was the fifth-highest of all offensive linemen in the NFL. He tore his ACL after the 2017 season, which led to a shaky 2018 campaign. He bounced back in 2019 and helped the Titans get to the AFC Championship Game.

Conklin signed a three-year, $42 million contract with the Cleveland Browns this past free agency period. His journey from walk-on to big money NFL offensive tackle is one of the greatest success stories MSU has ever seen.