Mike Pennel isn't a household name around the Jets community, but he's looking to change that after impressing in spring camp.
You know we're always wary of reading too much into the spring, whether it's Jamal Adams calling plays and looking like a veteran, or a little known defensive tackle making a good first impression. However you always look for indicators to spot the next great diamond in the rough.
Nobody expected Damon Harrison to become the dominant player that he is today, I'm not saying that Mike Pennel will get to that stage, despite receiving some comparisons to former great Kris Jenkins, but the early reports are positive:
"Mike's a big man," Bowles said of the 6'4", 332-pounder. "He's had a good spring, a very good spring. And he's into it. If it continues in pads, he'll have a future here."
The road hasn't been without its hazards for Pennel, and he's had to take a couple of diversions along the way. After going undrafted by the Packers in 2014, he impressed enough to make the team straight out of camp. He appeared in 13 games for the Packers his rookie year, and followed that up by appearing in all 16 games in 2015, starting five.
Following two suspensions of four games apiece in 2016 for violating the leagues substance abuse policy, the Packers decided to move on from Pennel in January 2017. After spending less than a month on the sidelines, Pennel was offered a chance at retribution by the Jets, and he looks to be grasping it with both hands.
With Steve McClendon and Deon Simon offering depth at the NT position, Pennel will need to continue to impress to play his way onto the final roster, especially considering the flexibility of the defensive line in general.
You can't obsess over the past, but you can't ignore it either, you have to learn from it to ensure that you don't make the same mistakes. Mike Pennel has a lot of talent, and that flashes on tape. If he dedicates himself completely, the sky could be the limit, and the Jets faith could be repaid:
"I feel like you can go one way or another," he said. "You can just rely on your talent and make the team, but I have bigger aspirations than that. I want to outplay anything that I've done before. And I actually want to prove people right who said I have the potential to be a good player."