The Seattle Seahawks 2018 season came to an end against the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, and that means it’s the offseason. With the offseason comes the time of year when hope replants itself in the form of free agency and the draft, with teams able to restock and reload rosters for the upcoming season.
With that said, there will be countless mock drafts and coverage of the combine, free agency and the draft, and then countless articles will be penned as fans look forward to their team competing in the new season. But, as was noted on Twitter by someone to whom I will give zero credit, the draft is not exactly the best place to find those who will become immediate contributors.
"I'm going to use the upcoming draft to fix a weakness on the team for 2019" would be a horrible philosophy. Rookies still contribute very little. Even for most of the greats. Doesn't mean you don't address your needs, but for next season only, you cannot rely on the draft.— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) January 21, 2019
That said, I’ll be going through the 2018 draft of the Seahawks one pick at a time and looking at what kind of return the team actually got out of each of its selections, and then looking at what we might be able to expect going forward.
The first pick to be reviewed is the first pick the team made: running back Rashaad Penny. A pick that was loved by the pro-run crowd and hated by the anti-run crowd, Penny sparked conversation and controversy from the moment the pick was announced. Things started off rough for Penny, who missed much of training camp with a broken finger, and then when he did return did not make much of an impact on the field.
Penny played just 181 offensive snaps over the course of the 2018 season, with nearly 40% of those snaps coming during the month of September (71 of 181, 39.2%). His play improved as the season went along, but even towards the end of the year it seemed like every time he appeared to begin to be finding his groove, he’d then take a step back with a horrible on field performance.
Specifically, after carrying the ball 12 times for 108 yards against the Los Angeles Rams and eight times for 46 yards against the Green Bay Packers, he then produced four yards on four carries against the Carolina Panthers. Then, after he had seven carries for 65 yards against the San Francisco 49ers and eight for 44 yards against the Minnesota Vikings, he gained just six yards on four carries in the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals. Obviously, struggles are to be expected of rookies, but running back is typically a position where players are able to step in and make more immediate contributions than Penny did during his 2018 campaign.
Penny specifically struggled in creating much after first contact, as he was third on the Seahawks in yards after contact behind both Mike Davis and Chris Carson. That said, he was phenomenal when he was able to get the ball in open space and put his speed, burst and elusiveness to good use. It’s fair to wonder if the Seahawks will not mind letting Davis leave in free agency this offseason if they believe that Penny can improve his pass blocking to the point where the team feels comfortable with him as the third down back.
Now, that leads to the question of whether or not a rotational player, specifically a third down back, warrants being a first round pick. Obviously, the Seahawks had no idea how Carson would actually return following his ankle injury, and after watching both Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls fail miserably in their returns from serious lower leg injuries, there is no doubt the Seahawks may have felt like running back was a position of need.
Taking all of that into consideration, how do you grade the Rashaad Penny selection with the benefit of a season of hindsight?
How do you grade the selection of Rashaad Penny in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft?
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