After the franchise-altering trade of Russell Wilson last month, the Seahawks hold a top 10 draft pick for the first time since 2010. Who might the Seahawks target with that No. 9 pick? In the countdown to the start of the draft Thursday, we’ll profile the prospects who seem to make the most sense for the Seahawks in the first round.
Today’s pick: Trevor Penning
Position: Offensive tackle
College: Northern Iowa
40 time: 4.89
Career highlights: Allowed only one sack and 11 pressures in 12 games during the 2021 season. He was the only offensive lineman named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top offensive player in the FCS.
Background: Reportedly weighed 235 pounds as a defensive end/tight end in high school, then packed on 100 pounds in college. Named to college football’s “Freaks List” last year. “We treat him like Bigfoot and we don’t look him in the eyes,” Northern Iowa O-line coach Ryan Clanton told The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.
Why he might be a good fit for the Seahawks: Backed by a lot of buzz about how “mean” and “nasty” and “gritty” he is, Penning has been one of the fastest-rising prospects in the pre-draft buildup. He impressed scouts during Senior Bowl week and followed that up with a strong showing at the NFL combine. Pro Football Focus gave Penning a 99.9 run-blocking grade last season, the highest grade it has ever given an offensive lineman. And, yes, Pete Carroll wants to run the ball.
“It’s not only that he possesses elite physical tools but also that he possesses the kind of killer instinct to play through the whistle snap after snap,” PFF wrote in its draft guide. “Sometimes it gets him in trouble, as evidenced by his 34 penalties in his past 31 games, but you’d rather have to tone it down than coach it up.”
As we noted in discussing the potential fits of Charles Cross and Evan Neal, the Seahawks have an obvious need at tackle. Cross, Neal and Ikem Ekwonu are widely regarded as the top three tackles in the draft, and many project all three to go in the top 10. And if the Seahawks have Penning graded similarly as those three — and, heck, maybe even higher than them — then they wouldn’t see him as a reach for them at No. 9.
Why he might not be a good fit for the Seahawks: There are some questions about how Penning will transition to the NFL after playing against inferior competition at a lower-division school. And he’s not considered a polished prospect in pass protection, either.
Prospect quote: “Off the field, I’m just trying to be a nice guy; I have no reason to be angry. But on the field, I think that’s just a switch you’ve got to have, especially to play offensive line. Playing very nasty is how I believe O-line is meant to be played. You want to make that guy across from you hate to go against you. You want to see the fear in his eyes.” — Penning on his mean-streak reputation
Scout’s take: “Don’t overthink it when you write him up. He’s got size, length, toughness, he’s smart, he works his tail off, and loves to play football. That is what you look for in a starting tackle.” — Anonymous NFC executive, via NFL.com