In preparation for FakePigskin’s 2018 Senior Bowl coverage, I will take an early look at prospects whom are projected to have a major role in the upcoming NFL draft.
Each prospect will be broken down by characteristics I use when evaluating players and how they should transition to the next level.
Name: Rashaad Penny
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Position: Running Back
School: San Diego State
Height: 5’ 11”
While the Mountain West Conference scarcely moves the channel of most televisions, there are always a handful of players that many pundits sleep on… literally. For those paying attention, they know of a little gem by the name of Rashaad Penny playing running back for the Aztecs of San Diego State.
Beginning as a former high school baseball player, Penny got a late start playing football. He didn’t make the biggest impression when starting as he was undersized for the running back position. Having to play behind Division I’s all-time leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey didn’t help his cause either.
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As a freshman in 2014, Penny only carried the ball twice for 22 yards followed by a 2015 campaign where he totaled 61 carries for 368 yards and four touchdowns coupled with 8 receptions for 120 yards and another score.
His junior season would be a breakout considering Pumphrey was blowing it up as well, compiling 136/1,018/11 on the ground; 15/224/3 through the air.
His work ethic along with Pumphrey’s ascension to the NFL speaks volumes as he’s currently second in league rushing this year. Penny has amassed a combined 246 total touches for 1,738 yards and nine scores.
Lastly, over his career Penny returned six kickoffs to the house adding additional fantasy football value.
(Photo: Ernie Anderson)
Penny is primarily a north / south runner with a knack of quickly identifying the hole, using patience and extraordinary vision. These skills allow him to find even the slightest crease to exploit. Once upon the second level of defenders or in space on a short pass, Penny will use quick cuts to slightly change direction.
While not the most fleet of foot, Penny does have a deceptive quickness. His shifty moves allow him to avoid initial tackles while keeping his feet continually moving. He does struggle when being caught up in the wash where defenders can get around his legs. Yet he will leave a pile behind him when being tackled above the waist.
Running between the tackles in a downhill fashion is the preferred style. Penny is best when gaining steam as he proceeds through the defensive line. He will then kick in a sudden burst looking to truck smaller defenders. When at maximum capacity Penny will move a pile.
On the downside, Penny tends to run a bit upright. This style invites a defender to catch him behind the line of scrimmage when the offensive line has a breakdown.
Penny works equally as well following a fullback (which has been a lost art in the NFL) as well as independently.
Contrarily, running outside hasn’t been a strength when being pitched the ball. His initial instinct is to follow the blocking to the inside. Penny’s speed is gained through momentum crashing through the line of scrimmage thus limiting his desire to break a play to the outside.
However, when needed, Penny has featured some memorable outside highlights.
Check this one…
– Home Run Ability:
Penny does have the ability to take it to the house after breaching the first wave of defenders. Once in the open field he can easily shake off the tackles of smaller defenders as his acceleration / speed increases. This may not translate as well in the NFL, but the threat does exist.
– Ball Security:
Penny has only placed the rock on the ground five times in 428 rushing attempts to date. He locks the ball up with both hands initially heading through the defensive surge. Being an exclusive between the tackles runner, he will rarely need to extend his ball handling arm to avoid tackles.
– Blocking/Blitz Pick-up:
When asked, Penny is adequate in pass protection but as with most college players, his technique will have to be refined at the next level. It will be at this point he’ll be on the field for third down action.
While not overly prevalent in the passing game, Penny was more than suitable when called upon for short dump offs. He compiled 40 receptions in 42 games. His new NFL family would be served well trying to get him in space on package plays allowing him to gain momentum.
– Final Thoughts
Penny is quickly opening eyes as the NFL draft approaches. He made a fantastic call not coming out early as his final year has given him the opportunity to shine outside of Donnel Pumphrey’s shadow. He has quietly assembled what has been an outstanding senior season capping off a vastly underrated collegiate career.
Look for Penny to find his NFL home on the second day and be an interesting conversation piece among your Dynasty football league mates.
– Previous Profiles