UPDATE: Rashaad Penny was drafted Thursday night in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks. He was the No. 27 overall pick.
When you look at the game tape, Rashaad Penny leaps off the screen.
According to the statistical website Pro Football Focus, the Aztecs All-American running back forced more missed tackles, broke more tackles, had more yards after contact, and more runs of 15 or more yards than any other back in the nation in 2017.
Plus, he’s just a good guy with a team-first attitude, and while going through the Pre-Draft process that’s something that really shined through.
“It’s personality. They want to know who you are,” said Penny during the buildup to the 2018 NFL Draft. “I think it’s great that I get to show my personality to some of these great coaches and let them know who I am. That’s what will take you a long way in the NFL, your personality.”
All his coaches rave about his work ethic. One of the few knocks on Penny was the perceived lack of breakaway speed … even though he never got caught from behind in the open field.
So for the NFL Combine he trained to be a track star and ran the 3rd-fastest time in the running back group. Having proven that point, Rashaad went about re-shaping his body back to being a football player.
“You definitely have to,” said Penny. “Because right after the draft you have rookie mini-camp and that’s what (coaches) have talked to me about is, you’ve gotta come in conditioned. You’ve gotta come in well ready to go because once we get the ball rolling it’s all on y’all so I’m more of a football player now and I think all the 40-yard dash was over after the Combine.”
If there is a hole in Penny’s game it’s in pass protection. He was not asked to do that much in San Diego State’s run-happy attack but in the off-season made a conscious effort to improve and become a true every-down running back.
“Definitely something I’ve been focused and worked on,” said Penny. “It’s a mental thing for me. I know I can do it. I’m big enough and strong enough. It’s just up to me in how I present myself. I know that was one of my biggest weaknesses going in.”
Simply put, Rashaad Penny is a 1st round talent. But in today’s NFL the emphasis on running backs has diminished so Penny is probably not going to be drafted until the 2nd or even 3rd round. When you consider he’s also one of the most prolific kickoff returners in NCAA history with a record-tying seven touchdown returns he’s going to be a steal.
As for who takes him? Penny grew up in the Los Angeles area before the return of the Rams, so he doesn’t really have a preference.
“Man I have so many teams. My whole household was all different fans so I just was a bandwagon; whichever team was winning at that time.”
The team that drafts Rashaad Penny will very likely be winning soon, too.