From now until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling a small-school offensive lineman that has shot up draft boards this season and projects to be a better pro than a former college teammate who is a starter in the league for a playoff team.
#70 Trevor Penning, OL, UNI, (R-Senior) – 6071, 325lb
Senior Bowl/Combine Invite:
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Trevor Penning||6071/325||10 1/8||34 1/4||83 5/8|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has good speed and athleticism that pair well with his massive size
— Possesses the arm length (34 7/8”), wingspan (83 1/2”), and hand size 10 1/8”) you like to have for an offensive tackle prospect on the outside
— Easy mover in space in the run game, being able to combo off to the backer or climb to the 2nd level and pick off smaller defenders as a lead blocker
— Plays with a great motor and will look to take his block through the whistle
— Plays with a nasty demeanor you want to see from an offensive lineman, priding himself on takedown/pancake blocks
— Enjoys enforcing his will on defenders he knows are not as strong as him in the run game
— Impressive play strength leads to him tossing defenders aside or uplifting them off the ground
— Washes defenders away in the run game when down blocking, clearing a massive hole to run through
— Has the athleticism to get out on screens and counter/pulls and lead the way for the back
— Plays with a strong, wide base in pass protection
— Has an active vertical pass set to set the depth of the pocket
— Able to mirror effectively laterally on the pass rush
— Able to hit and replace with his hands in pass protection with good hand placement inside the defender’s chest
— Has a deadly snatch trap move in pass protection where he muscles defenders to the ground
— Will lean too far forward at times, causing him to fall off blocks as a run blocker
— Can stand high in pass protection, losing his anchor thus being susceptible to getting pushed back in the pocket
— Will allow defenders to get their hands into his chest on the long arm/bull rush
— Could be more consistent with his hand placement on his run fits and with his punch in pass protection
— Feet stall at times in his pass set allowing defenders to get around the corner
— Has balance issues and ends up on the ground more than you’d like to see for a player of his size
— Needs to sync up his hands and his feet in pass protection to be more consistent at sustaining blocks
— Can stand to do a better job getting the angle on the reach block or picking up defenders in open space
— Level of competition can be a concern when debating how he would fair against Power-5 talent
— Redshirt Senior Prospect from Clear Lake, IA
— Recognized as a team captain in HS at Newman Catholic
— Also lettered in basketball and track and field
— Wasn’t highly recruited coming out and signed with Northern Iowa, redshirting his first year on campus
— Saw action in four games as a redshirt freshman, playing at RG
— Played and started all 15 games in 2019, playing at LT
— Played and started all 6 games playing in the spring of 2021 as a redshirt junior at LT
— Started all 12 games at LT in 2021, being the only offensive lineman named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award
— 2021 AP All-America, FCS All-America First Team, FCS Offensive Lineman of the Year 2021, Preseason All-American in 2020
Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa had the pleasure of playing on the opposite side of recent draftee Spencer Brown in 2019 who was selected in the third round by the Buffalo Bills. With the Panthers’ season being moved to the spring of 2021, Penning had the opportunity to show what he could do as the lead man upfront with Brown pursuing a career in the NFL. Penning didn’t disappoint, showcasing a blend of athleticism and physicality that we saw on tape with Brown when he went through the process.
Penning is a mammoth of a man in his own right when compared to Brown in terms of size, standing over 6’7 and topping the scales at nearly 330lb. He has the arm length, wingspan, and hand size that scouts are looking for in bookend tackle prospects, suggesting his measurables won’t be the reason he doesn’t make it on the outside. His physical tools are also impressive, being a weight room warrior as well as Brown was. His strength and power are on another level, as this video shows Penning breaking the all-time back squat record for the football team this spring at 625lb.
Penning strength in the weight room transfers over to the football field rather smoothly. He is a strong run blocker, being able to blow downed defensive linemen off their spot in the run game. Here is a clip of Penning starting at RG a couple years back against Iowa State, picking up the defensive end on the down block and runs him away from the play, finishing on top of him as he springs his tailback to the second level.
Penning wound up moving to LT in 2019 and didn’t see any drop off in play. His physicality and nastiness as a run blocker remain evident on the outside of the OL as they were on the inside. Watch this play action boot rollout pass to the right as the OL sells the run fake to the left with Penning picking up the DE and runs him clear to the sideline on the opposite side of the field, putting him into the bench through the echo of the whistle.
As mentioned earlier Penning is a brutal down blocker in short yardage and goal line situations when matched up with a smaller defender across from him. Check out this play against North Dakota State where Penning blows his man up from the snap, knocking him off his feet and into the pile to clear a nice running lane for his RB to run through.
He also can be effective at kick out blocks on edge defenders and linebackers due to his size and strength advantage, attacking half man like on this rep against NDSU and taking him out of view of the screen.
Penning can be a devastating run blocker, but has the skill set and length to be a viable pass protector as well. Watch this rep against the Jackrabbits where Penning plays with his outside foot back in his pass set to set the depth of the pocket on the snap, and then is able to adjust laterally to the defender crashing inside on him, proceeding to mirror him down the LOS with his inside the defender’s chest and chucks him down to the ground like a rag doll at the end of the rep just because he can.
This next play provides a good example of Penning using his length to his advantage against the Bison where he rides the edge rusher up the pocket, getting a hand inside the defender’s shoulder and tosses him to the ground and finishes on top of him for the after the defender gives Penning his backside.
Here’s a good example of Penning playing with good leverage to anchor in against the rush and use the defender’s momentum against him against former Minnesota State University, Mankato DE #98 Brayden Thomas who I actually worked with quite frequently in the strength and conditioning department for the Mavericks.
Thomas tries to get the arm under rip move on his speed rush against Penning but Penning does a great job getting his hands inside Thomas’s chest, getting Thomas off-balance and Penning proceeds to finish him like the rest of his competition by chucking him to the floor like a bouncer at the club, finishing on top of him as his QB finds the open receiver in the end zone for the score. I guess you can say that Penning leans forward on this rep instead of sitting his hips down more, but he is still in good position to stall the rush and gets the hands placement along with the anchor to easily win the rep.
Penning also uses his nastiness as a run blocker in pass protection at times, using the snatch trap technique to throw pass rushers to the turf like we see on this rep from this past season against the Bison, getting the takedown block on the edge rusher.
While the physicality and nastiness of Penning is enticing, he has several key technical issues in pass protection he needs to clean up. He has a bad tendency to pause his feet and rely too much on his punch, causing him to lunge forward at times and whiff on his punch. Watch this rep against Iowa State where penning is in position against the edge rusher, but stalls his feet and ducks his head, allowing the pass rusher to turn the corner on him.
Here’s another example against NDSU where Penning tries to quick set against the edge rusher, failing to move his feet laterally and opens his outside shoulder to the rush, immediately losing the edge as he reaches out to try and grab the defender who rounds the corner into the QB for the sack fumble.
Another bad tendency Penning has in pass protection is his consistency in his hip bend. When he sits low and moves his feet, he handles the rush well. However, there are plenty of instances where he stands up, losing his anchor which can him getting walked back into the lap of the quarterback. That is exactly what happens on this rep against DL #58 Eyioma Uwazurike, allowing the defender to stick the long arm right into his chest as he gets stood up and loses leverage, forcing the QB to throw early.
Overall, Penning is an intriguing prospect possessing the size, strength, and aggressive demeanor you desire in an offensive lineman. He has the skill set and tape to be a dominant run blocker at the next level and is position versatile, having starting experience at guard and tackle meaning he can kick inside if necessary. Penning also has qualities you desire in a pass protector in the league, having the long arms, the ability to set vertically, and the aggressive finish edge rushers to the floor.
However, Penning has issues playing with consistent hip bend and leverage as well as the tendency to stall his feet and lunge forward in pass protection. He has noticeable balance issues as he ends up on the ground, and he will too often allow defenders into his chest where he exposes himself to power rushers. When coming up with a pro comparison, Jon Runyan Sr. came to mind as he and Penning have nearly identical measurables in terms of length and size and aggressiveness as nasty run blockers that can displace defenders in the run game.
On the negative side, Runyan Sr. and Penning can struggle with speed off the edge, will get too high at times when engaged, and end up on the ground more than you’d like in terms of playing with balance. Penning would best be served going to a run-heavy, power/gap system that maximizes his aggressiveness as a run blocker and limit the amount he must move in space or deal with speed off the edge in pass protection as his style of play fits more as a mauler than a smooth pass protector. Penning should expect to go early this April with the ability to develop into a quality starting tackle if he cleans up his technique to pair with his play as a run blocker.
Projection: Mid-to-Late Day One
Depot Draft Grade: 8.6 – Year One Quality Starter
Games Watched: vs North Dakota State (2020), vs South Dakota State (2020), at Iowa State (2021), at North Dakota State (2021)