The Green Bay Packers own two picks in the first round (Nos. 22 and 28) of the 2022 NFL draft. In this “Packers draft profile” series, we will look at several options for Green Bay in the first round and dissect their collegiate careers, highlight reel and how they would fit with the team.
In this edition, we look at Northern Iowa offensive lineman Trevor Penning.
Penning tied for the second-fastest 40-yard dash among offensive linemen at the scouting combine. The 6-foot-7, 325-pound tackle also clocked the quickest 3-cone drill, which measures change of direction.
Named as a finalist in 2021 for the Walter Payton Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Penning played 17 games last year – five in the spring and 12 in the fall – and was one of 21 former FCS players invited to attend the NFL combine.
Penning and Spencer Brown, drafted by Buffalo in the third round last year (No. 93 overall), anchored the Panthers’ offensive line in 2019. Brown, and Penning, looked like different players at the end of their Northern Iowa careers versus when they began, gaining upwards of 80 pounds to boost their NFL odds.
In 2021 – after the pandemic robbed most FCS programs of performing in 2020, and the completion of a substitute spring campaign – Penning helped steer Northern Iowa to 4,365 yards of total offense and a red-zone scoring conversion rate of 83% (25-for-30). He collected All-American recognition from numerous media outlets, including the Associated Press, Athlon Sports and Walter Camp Football.
Penning’s sheer dominance at the lower level – not to mention a violently strong showing at the Senior Bowl – is enough, in most experts’ books it seems, to discard apprehension related to competition. He checks all the right boxes of the modern lineman plus brings an old-fashioned, distinctive mean streak.
40-yard dash: 4.89 seconds
Bench press: N/A
Vertical jump: 28 inches
Broad jump: 111 inches
3-cone drill: 7.25 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.62 seconds
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“Three-year starter at left tackle with outstanding measurables on a low-cut, well-built frame. Penning plays with a level of disgust for anyone lining up against him and seeks out violent block finishes when possible. He's athletic enough to block on the move and has the potential to shine as a powerful drive blocker. Size, length and know-how have been more than enough to ward off FCS pass rushers, but he needs to operate with better inside-out positioning while developing much firmer edges to succeed against a more talented group of quarterback hunters. Penning has both traits and toughness but the tape can leave you wanting just a little more from him. He should become an instant starter at left or right tackle but the jump in competition will take time to navigate.” – Lance Zierlein
“Penning does a nice job of snatching defenders who lean in pass protection, with the ability to drop his hips and anchor quickly. He imposes his will and dominates competition with overwhelming size and torque, but he has occasional lapses where he appears to go through the motions, letting defenders slip blocks too easily. Penning tends to turn his hips early toward widely aligned speed-rushers who attack the corner with high pads, leaving his inside shoulder vulnerable to getting lifted and pried open. He also needs to work on resetting his hands quicker when his punch lands high on defenders to prevent getting forklifted and shed.” – Brandon Thorn
“Penning fits best at tackle in our minds, although he could be serviceable at guard if needed. Ideally, he'd be featured in an offense that embraces the power run game and where he could receive occasional help in pass protection as Penning adjusts to NFL edge speed. He might have some early lumps, but Penning could be a Day 1 starter who works through some issues as a rookie and is ready for primetime in Year 2.” – Eric Edholm
HOW HE FITS
To start, Penning is very athletic, which automatically lends itself to positional flexibility – he could slide inside to guard if demanded by circumstances – and is more a necessity than a bonus when blocking for a quarterback such as Aaron Rodgers, who can extend plays by scrambling and manipulating the pocket. Drafting Penning probably would allow the Pack to transition Elgton Jenkins back to guard permanently, or in the scenario where one of David Bakhtiari or Jenkins misses time, gives Green Bay a competitive combo at tackle. Lastly, Penning’s nastiness would enhance a downhill, AJ Dillon-focused run game.