Born: February 2, 1996 (age 22 on draft day)
High School: Norwalk High School
2014: 2 carries, 22 yds (11 Y/A),0 TD, 0 receptions, 0 yds, 0 TD, 500 Return Yds, 0 TD
2015: 61 carries, 368 yds (6.3 Y/A), 4 TD, 5 receptions, 20 yds, 1 TD, 804 Return Yds, 3 TD
2016: 136 carries, 1018 yds (7.49 Y/A), 11 TD, 15 receptions, 224 yds, 3 TD, 624 Return Yds, 2 TD
2017: 289 carries, 2248 yards (7.78 Y/A), 23 TD, 19 receptions, 132 yds, 2 TD, 521 Return Yds, 2 TD
- Most elusive RB in the draft
- Forced 86 missed tackles (Barkley had 34 as a comparison)
- Shows great burst
- Has a 2nd gear to run away
- Makes effortless cuts without losing speed
- Has next level vision
- Shows patience to let blocks develop
- Has a very stout frame
- Can’t be brought down with arm tackles
- Not afraid to take on defenders
- Doesn’t take many big hits due to his elusiveness
- Can be a workhorse
- Takes good angles and can out pace defenders on the edge
- Can be an effective receiver
- Averages 2 return TD’s a year (Punt included)
- Needs to work on pass blocking... doesn’t block with authority
- Drops some easy catches
- Doesn’t have a fumbling problem, but can do a better job with ball security
Penny is the kind of back that will make defenders look silly on a regular basis. His ability to make a seamless cut, and get back to top speed is ridiculous. This defender probably thought he had an easy tackle before he realised there was nothing but air for him.
On this play, Penny shows his vision, and his awareness. Rashaad is not a slave to one gap. If the play isn’t there, he has the quick twitch recognition to make the cut and find the open whole to burst through.
As much as I love Penny, he isn’t perfect. His biggest flaw is pass blocking. He is more than willing to block, but needs to put more conviction behind his blocks. He gets pushed into the QB way too easily.
I believe Barkley is the biggest home run threat in this draft, but Penny isn’t very far behind. He is very dangerous when he is allowed to to get to full speed. Arizona State has some speed on the defense, and yet Penny is able to go Sonic the Hedgehog on them and run away from them with ease.
In this final clip Penny shows his value at a position we have long suffered at. To be blunt, we haven’t had a return man that has been able to reach the lofty goal of mediocrity since Leon Washington. Penny’s vision, speed and elusiveness make him ideal for this position. He averaged 2 scores a year at San Diego State.
Draft Grade: Early/Mid Second Rounder
I really can’t say this enough. Penny is my favorite running back in the whole draft. It was around this time last year that I was going wild for a similar RB named Hunt. Like Hunt, Penny is this year’s most elusive RB. There are backs that do individual things better than Penny, but only Penny does it all very well. If you want that guy that can can plow a hole through a defender, Guice is your guy. If you want the best home run threat, Barkley is your back. Penny has the power, the speed, and the skills to do what both of them to a slightly lesser degree. To top it off, Penny is also a very good return man.
As noted above, Penny will need to work on his pass blocking. This will limit his work to 1st and 2nd down to start his career. Once he nails that aspect of his game down, he will be 3 down bellcow that can replicate Hunt’s success. It’s that success we can use going into the 2018/19 season.
It is very possible that by the time free agency rolls around, we will have cut Matt Forte and possibly trade fan favorite, Bilal Powell. This will leave the door open for some new blood. I would pull for a short yardage specialist and Penny. Penny can get the heavy workload, McGuire can spell him and have 3rd down duties. I would be very happy with that setup.