The SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft is underway!
Most mock drafts have the Seattle Seahawks taking either an offensive lineman, EDGE, or cornerback, so I’m not deviating from that line of thinking given those are three of the Seahawks’ biggest needs. However, I probably pulled a bit of a surprise by taking Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning at No. 9 overall.
Let me get ahead of you right now and say that this is a reach and I know it’s a reach. I personally wouldn’t deliberately draft him at No. 9 but I expect the Seahawks to trade down and we don’t do hypothetical trades in these mock drafts. Last time I did the mock draft I also reached for Jon Greenard of Florida, who ended up going in the third round to the Houston Texans and was very productive for them last season.
With all of that said, I genuinely do believe the Seahawks would at least consider taking Penning with their first round pick.
Measurable Stats (NFL Combine)
Weight: 330 lbs
Arm Length: 34 1/4”
Hand: 10 1/8”
40-yard dash: 4.89 secs
20 yd Shuttle: 4.62 secs
3-Cone: 7.25 secs
Three-year starter at left tackle with outstanding measurables on a low-cut, well-built frame. Penning plays with a level of disgust for anyone lining up against him and seeks out violent block finishes when possible. He’s athletic enough to block on the move and has the potential to shine as a powerful drive blocker. Size, length and know-how have been more than enough to ward off FCS pass rushers, but he needs to operate with better inside-out positioning while developing much firmer edges to succeed against a more talented group of quarterback hunters. Penning has both traits and toughness but the tape can leave you wanting just a little more from him. He should become an instant starter at left or right tackle but the jump in competition will take time to navigate.
Strengths (via NFL Draft Buzz)
—Penning is a massive human with prototype traits to be a starting left tackle in the NFL.
—Has a nasty streak that leads to defenders being driven into the ground
—Athletic enough to play at left tackle and strong enough to move to the right side
—Penning made Bruce Feldman’s freak list, -he squats 625 (a Northern Iowa record), power cleans 385 pounds, has a size 17 shoe, and will likely run around a 5.0 40-yard dash.
—Penning put up fantastic numbers at the combine with a 4.89-second 40-yard dash and 7.25-second three-cone
—Has loose hips and can reset his stance in tight spots
—Very powerful - a former shot putter and discus thrower - wrestles defenders to the ground
—Has a good technique in pass protection
—Very long arms - ideal for playing the left tackle spot (34 ⅞ inch arms and 10 ⅛ inch hands)
—Penning’s kick-slide and explosion out of his stance is excellent
—If a scout were to draw up a starting NFL left tackle, the picture may look like a lot like [Penning]. His height, length and athletic build are prototypical for the position that helps protect the blind side of ultra-important starting quarterbacks.
—Attacks his man, playing with a wide base and the lateral agility to mirror, sustain and shuffle to help inside. Has the size, strength and quick feet to be effective as a position run-blocker.
—Penning has the ability to mirror speed from the outside, with the strength to defeat power bull rush moves
—Solid positional run blocker who flashes the nasty demeanor and killer instinct scouts covet.
—Anchors against larger defenders in the middle; resets hands to maintain distance.
Weaknesses (via NFL Draft Buzz)
—Needs to work on his technique in pass protection, using more consistent leverage and continuing to move his feet.
—Has been caught holding when he loses leverage
—Loses leverage battles and plays with high pad level. Can be late off the snap.
—We have seen him whiff on blocks after being beaten initially. Plays too high and without proper leverage, pad level and can be passive.
—Will punch at smaller defenders instead of latching on and is more of a mauler than mover in the running game. Can improve maintaining outside leverage when doubling the nose. Ducks his head and gets too upright, causing him to fall off second-level blocks.
Compared to many of the tackles in this class - FCS and FBS competition regardless - Trevor Penning consistently performs well against stunt/twists. Always alert, ready for defenders to loop back outside against him. pic.twitter.com/miHzTyOfmJ— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) April 7, 2022
Trevor Penning's run blocking tape is just a montage of him absolutely bodying dudes pic.twitter.com/WTyztwRR4i— Ben Linsey (@PFF_Linsey) March 30, 2022
Why the Seahawks would draft Trevor Penning
He played in the Senior Bowl and is going to be 23 years old in a month
This is only partially tongue-in-cheek. The Seahawks love them some Senior Bowl players and they love “experienced” college athletes who are 23 and older. Penning was one of the Senior Bowl standouts.
Penning has played at both tackle and right guard, which should immediately intrigue the Seahawks front office. Jamarco Jones didn’t really pan out during his time in Seattle but he pretty much secured a roster spot purely because he was depth at tackle and guard. In Penning’s case he’s far better suited to tackle than Jones ever was, so while he’s usually on the left side he could switch to right tackle at the pro level.
Stands out as a run blocker
Again, it’s partially tongue-in-cheek. With Russell Wilson gone, I think it is highly likely that the Seahawks once again become one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL. Penning’s highlights in the run game stand out a bit more than his pass protection, and no doubt the Seahawks will be looking at any OL who can run block well, and PFF gave Penning a 99.9 run blocking grade for 2021.
A possible scheme fit
Penning has been dubbed an athlete good enough to fit in any scheme, whether power blocking or zone blocking, and we know the Seahawks primarily run zone. Here’s a little quote from Penning at the Senior Bowl.
“We were watching NFL film and trying to learn how to do wide-zone and watched Taylor Lewan and Rodger Saffold a lot,” Penning said. “They were mauling people. It was really fun to watch.”
Penning is obviously a fan of Lewan’s style of play and models his game after him.
Why they might not
Seattle does not typically go below the FBS. Their FCS picks over the past 12 years were Mark LeGree (2011, 5th round), Korey Toomer (2012, 5th round), Jeremy Lane (2012, 6th round), Jared Smith (2013, 7th round), and Tye Smith (2015, 5th round). Even just scanning outside the traditional Power-5 conferences (Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, and SEC) has not been super common for early Seahawks picks. Rashaad Penny is the only time the Seahawks have taken a non-Power 5 player in the first round under Carroll and Schneider, and last year with their first pick they took Dee Eskridge, whom I wrongly wrote as coming out of an FCS school when this originally published but how dare I forget that Western Michigan is part of that sweet, sweet, MACtion?!
Penning plays angry and with full effort during and after the whistle... that’s gotten him plenty of flags in college and would get him plenty of flags in the pros.
Trevor Penning career penalties:— Jesse Fritsch (@DraftGuyJesse) February 4, 2022
2019 over 824 snaps - 12
2020 over 376 snaps - 6
2021 over 773 snaps - 16
8 career games without a penalty.
Total - 34
Of course, that didn’t stop the Seahawks from starting Breno Giacomini or Germain Ifedi for as long as they did without some form of benching for a preponderance of penalties. They’re not necessarily averse to ill-disciplined players but his over-aggressiveness could be the type of liability that even Coach Carroll won’t tolerate.
Hasn’t had a pre-draft visit with the Seahawks
...At least not yet (or it’s not been reported). It’s not a prerequisite for getting picked but many Seahawks draft picks from Bobby Wagner to L.J. Collier had pre-draft visits before they were selected.
Potentially not a scheme fit
This can flip the other way! It’s not a sure thing that Penning will catch the eye of new offensive line coach Andy Dickerson as being suited for his system.
Charles Cross was available in the mock draft. He’s widely been projected to go to the Seahawks but something tells me that if Seattle does go OL in the first, Cross won’t be their guy. I’m extremely skeptical that they’ll take any OL early who played in the Air Raid offense (which Cross did at Mississippi State). They’re going to want someone who has a lot of run-blocking reps and Cross doesn’t fit the bill.
If there’s any lineman I have particular interest in it’s Ikem Ekwonu of NC State, but he went No. 4 in the mock draft and may very well be off the board by No. 9 anyway.
Make no mistake about it: Penning is a legitimately compelling prospect and Northern Iowa could be an OL factory. Last year Spencer Brown was drafted in the third round by the Buffalo Bills, making 10 starts in his rookie campaign on one of the best offenses in the NFL. They’ve got something brewing in Cedar Falls, and the Seahawks might just take a closer look.
Best players remaining:
- Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
- Charles Cross, T, Mississippi State
- Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
- George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
- Drake London, WR, USC