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Raiders Draft: Trevor Penning, OL, Northern Iowa scouting report

Small school prospect looking to make a name for himself at Senior Bowl

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Northern Iowa v Iowa State
Trevor Penning
Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders are in need of some offensive linemen and have been known to have monstrous linemen in the past. Trevor Penning is a massive human being who could fill one of the Raiders’ top NFL Draft needs at offensive tackle.

OL | Northern Iowa | 6’7” 321 pounds | Clear Lake, IA | May 15th, 1999 (22.7)

Overview

Trevor Penning was not rated by 247 Sports and received no FBS scholarship offers coming out of high school, and ended up staying close to home at FCS Northern Iowa. He redshirted as a true freshman and saw some action the following season as a guard before becoming the Panther’s starting left tackle in Week 4 of his redshirt sophomore season.

In three seasons as a full-time starter, the Clear Lake native allowed 42 pressures — six sacks — but only 21 and two in the past two seasons combined, and he also earned an outstanding 99.9 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus in 2021. He also made Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list, which notes he squats 625 pounds, cleans 385 and wears a size 17 shoe.

Strengths:

  • Very good size for an NFL offensive tackle and carries little to no bad weight
  • Gets off the ball pretty well out of a three-point stance, run or pass
  • Primarily uses quick and 45-degree pass sets because he wants to get his hands on rushers immediately and has good initial quickness to get on the rusher quickly
  • He has solid timing and good placement with his hands, getting them on the pass rusher’s chest and he has very impressive upper body strength to steer the pass rusher.
  • Grip strength is top-notch, keeps his elbows in and hands tight to the defensive linemen’s chest, and when they try to nock his hands off he barely budges once he latches on
  • Does a good job of mixing up the timing with his punch
  • Maintains a nice wide base combined with the strength and use of hands to get some lift on the rusher and anchor against bull rushers, with the strength to hold his ground against defensive ends.
  • The wide base should help him improve against inside counter moves as his reactive athleticism/COD get better
  • Has a good feel for when the pass rusher reaches the point of no return/gets even with the quarterback’s drop, and he uses his strength to ride the rusher past the quarterback
  • That wide and sturdy base carries over to the run game, helping him to avoid getting displaced by one-gapping defensive linemen
  • When run blocking, he has good leg drive after contact, impressive upper body strength to control and toss defensive ends to the side
  • On down blocks, he takes flat angles and has the strength to move defensive tackles and put them on their backs when double-teaming them
  • Has some nasty to him when finishing blocks, likes to put defensive linemen in the ground

Areas of Improvement:

  • The scheme at Northern Iowa had him use a “true pass set” about 45 percent of the time. For reference, Kolton Miller was just under 60 percent this past season.
  • When he did use vertical sets, he had choppy/inefficient footwork, slower feet and doesn’t look as comfortable working backward
  • While he is strong, he’s not very forceful with his punch in pass protection to stun defensive linemen
  • He lacks some reactive athleticism and change of direction to hold up against inside counter moves and he does have a habit of opening the gate up too early, creating an inside lane.
  • He’s late to recognize ET stunts when playing tackle, he gets too involved with the end instead of passing off and working back outside
  • When anchoring, he could afford to drop his butt a bit more to really sink his heels in, hasn’t been a major issue in college
  • Could struggle in a zone run scheme, on reach blocks or backside cutoffs, he takes too steep of an angle — probably a little too similar to his down blocks — making it hard to get around the defensive lineman
  • Does have a small balance issue while engaged on base blocks where if he gets bumped, he struggles to stay on his feet
  • Doesn’t avoid contact well when working up to the second level, needs to start dipping his shoulder to avoid contact from the front four
  • He struggles to block in space, his angles are off, he lacks the athletic ability to break down when reaching the defender and/or stay in front of quicker linebackers and defensive backs
NCAA Football: Northern Iowa at Iowa State
Trevor Penning
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries

  • None

Projection

NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 26th, 1st round

Penning is another guy I’m going to be keeping a close eye on this week at the Senior Bowl. Especially for a small school prospect, he’s getting quite a bit of love in the draft community as a fringe first-rounder. I’d put him in that category as well, seeing as he has NFL size and the nastiness that offensive line coaches covet.

As far as scheme goes, I think Penning would be best in an offense that uses a lot of gap runs and a quick passing game. That way teams can take advantage of his bullying mentality and impressive strength, while also allowing him to use more quick sets in the passing game. My only concern with the native Iowan in that scheme would be his ability to pull and block in space, but a team that likes to run more power and/or use a wing to pull on counter should have no concerns about his fit.

What do we need to know?

How is he going to hold up against NFL speed rushers? Penning didn’t face a ton of NFL competition in college and the scheme Northern Iowa ran didn’t force him to use a ton of vertical sets against edge rushers. So, it’s not necessarily that he can’t do it, but more that this will be something he’ll want to prove/show at events like the Senior Bowl.

Fit with the Raiders:

Unlike what I mentioned about Zion Johnson and Darian Kinnard, I don’t think Penning’s fit with the Silver and Black is as dependent upon what the team wants to do with Alex Leatherwood. In my opinion, Penning could play guard or tackle interchangeably right away, so they could take him regardless of who’s going to play inside and outside.

My biggest concern with the Panther’s fit with the Raiders is the scheme. With no head coach — or general manager — it’s hard to know what type of scheme they’ll be using, but they did use more zone runs over the last few years with the Gruden crew. If that stays consistent, Penning might not be the greatest fit.

Film Clips: