When the Seattle Seahawks chose Rashaad Penny with the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the criticism was fierce. Why go for a running back when you could’ve had an offensive lineman? Or a pass rusher? Or a cornerback to replace Richard Sherman? And if you’re going for a running back, why THAT one? He’s not Sony Michel, or Derrius Guice, or Nick Chubb, or Ronald Jones.
Day three rolled around and the Seahawks garnered both sentimental and actual football praise for selecting Shaquem Griffin in the fifth-round. Not only does this move reunite Shaquem with his twin brother Shaquill, but there is belief that Shaquem is going to be a significant contributor in the NFL. If not for the fact that he’s without a left hand, he surely would’ve gone higher in the draft.
ESPN’s Mike Sando compiled quotes from anonymous NFL executives on the drafts of every team in the league. Most of the article is behind a paywall — the Arizona Cardinals really benefit from its alphabetical ranking — but if you want snippets on what the execs think about the Seahawks’ 2018 draft, here you go!
“Shaquem will be a very good special-teams player, and he does have potential if they use him creatively to blitz,” one insider said. “I would not want him covering tight ends, but don’t ever doubt him because he has been doubted his entire life and has proved people wrong the whole way.”
“Our guys had [Penny] high, and he was clean medically,” one exec said. “Some of the other running backs have medical problems or character concerns. Seattle had to have a back, and they got one at about the only point they could since they did not have a second.”
“The coaches at San Diego State raved about Penny,” an evaluator said. “I think Pete [Carroll] took a stronger interest and was more involved in this draft and did a checklist on the type of players he wanted. C.J. Prosise was an injury guy in college. This draft appeared more focused.”
The only negative from one of these anonymous executives was, unsurprisingly, questioning why the Seahawks didn’t seriously address the offensive line, but he also commended the team for its “willingness to make selections without regard for public blowback.”
That quote about Penny’s medical history is an interesting one. Chris Carson had durability concerns that date back to an ACL tear in high school. We know full well that C.J. Prosise is constantly injured, and that includes missing several games at Notre Dame. Penny’s only notable on-field scares were a thigh bruise in August 2017 and getting his eyes gouged by a defender in October. This isn’t to say that Penny is destined to maintain that strong run of health in the pros, but the injury woes at running back over the last three seasons certainly had to be in the minds of the Seahawks front office.