By: Willie Lovato
- Sneaky Elusive
- College production
- Short yardage stud
- Good hands
Size - Standing at 5'11" and weighing 220 pounds, Rashaad Penny checks the NFL prototypical size box.
Speed - Many (including myself) were surprised by the 4.46 40-yard-dash time Penny posted at the NFL Combine. Player Profiler gave him a speed score of 111.2 which ranked in the 92nd percentile. Although his speed didn't always show on tape, his testing shows that Penny possesses that speed.
Sneaky Elusive - Another aspect of Penny's game flying under the radar is his ability to make defenders miss. Penny received the highest Elusive Rating among 2018 running back draft class per PFF. His 128.6 rating is very impressive when you start to compare it to other guys "known" for there elusiveness. Sony Michel (90.5) and Nyheim Hines (76.2) are some players that are discussed as elusive running backs, these ratings prove that Penny also deserves to be discussed in that category.
College production -1,018 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in 2016 was just the start for Rashaad Penny. Penny was at or near the top of most CFB rushing leaderboards in 2017. His 2,248 rushing yards ranked 1st, rushing touchdowns 2nd (23), and rushing yards per attempt 6th (7.8). On average, he ran the rock 22.2 times for an average of 172.9 rushing yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game. That's an impressive achievement regardless of what conference you play in. Penny also ran for 200+ rushing yards six times in 2017, don't tell Derrius Guice that though.
Workhorse/Durability - Only five players recorded more rushing attempts in 2017 than the 289 Penny logged. He showed no signs of being unable to routinely touch the ball 20+ times a game. How NFL teams view his ability to contribute in passing situations will determine his potential to be a workhorse on the next level.
- Pass blocking
- Production vs. Competition
Pass blocking - The biggest red flag for Penny is the question marks surrounding his ability to be a reliable pass-blocker on the next level. His tape shows a player that struggles with technique and aggression as a blocker. He may never be someone that enjoys blocking, but he will need to prove he can be trusted in passing situations or he will lose touches and opportunities early on.
Balance - Penny gets tripped up and fails to maintain his balance from time to time. This is not a huge deal but is worth mentioning. There were some huge plays left on the field due to him getting tripped up by arm tackles.
Production vs. Competition - I don't hold this aspect of his game against Penny. Although his production is aided in some capacity, whether it is minor or not, the fact that he produced consistently outweighs the competition argument for me.
I was much lower on Rashaad Penny prior to studying his tape. Throw the college competition argument out the window. This is a player who brings a handful of very good traits with him to the next level. He is a day two pick that will have an opportunity to contribute from day one. The only major red flag with Penny is his pass blocking. This will have to improve in order to get the most of his ability to contribute as a pass-catcher.
The same rings true for fantasy. Penny's size and speed will get him on the field early and often. His elusiveness, workhorse background, and good hands provide the traits you look for when talking about a true every-down back. His blocking is the only thing that could hold him back, especially in PPR leagues due to the fact that it could result in fewer pass-catching opportunities. He is a proven workhorse who should see plenty of opportunity from the team that drafts him based on when he will likely hear his name called (round 2-3). How high Penny will be drafted in the first round of rookie drafts will be determined by his landing spot. The 2018 running back class isn't full of player that carry every-down upside, Penny is one who does.