Despite most national predictions, and my own fears, that the New Orleans Saints would use a first-round choice on a quarterback, they made the smart move for the franchise.
The Saints followed up the selection of Ohio State WR Chris Olave at Number 11 overall by using the 19th pick of the first round on Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning.
Penning was the fourth offensive tackle taken off the board. He’ll be expected to fill the void created when often-injured Pro Bowl LT Terron Armstead signed with the Dolphins in free agency.
Penning is the fifth offensive lineman picked in the first or second round by the Saints since 2015. Here's a closer look at the former FCS star.
TREVOR PENNING, OT
A three sport star at Newman Catholic High School in Iowa, Penning stayed close to home for college. After redshirting his first year, he teamed with younger brother Jared to form a formidable duo on the left side of the UNI line over the last three seasons.
Penning entered 2021 as one of the highest-rated prospects in the FCS. He didn't disappoint, earning 1st Team All-Missouri Valley Conference accolades. A strong performance at the Senior Bowl and postseason activities cemented Penning's high draft status.
He has some experience at guard and right tackle, but Penning was a three-year starter along the left edge. His inexperience at a higher level was eased by his performance at Senior Bowl workouts.
Penning will still have to ease some pass blocking concerns. His technique is a bit raw because he was able to defeat most collegiate foes with raw strength and ability. He can be a bit vulnerable against twists and inside rushes. His size can also be a detriment when getting outside on screens and outside runs.
Penning is an old-school mauler with a throwback mentality. He blocks through the whistle and looks to dominate opponents on every snap. His intensity as a blocker is surpassed only by sound technique and athleticism for a player of his size.
As a run blocker, Penning stays compact and plays with excellent leverage, often flattening defenders to create gaping holes. His athleticism is good enough to be effective on pulls and traps.
In pass protection, Penning gets off the snap and into position quickly. His sheer size makes a wide rush difficult, but he also gets nice depth to set up a formidable pocket. Plays with the proper stance to respond to counter moves and has good recognition of blitzes.
There was some question whether All-Pro RT Ryan Ramczyk would move to the left side after Armstead's departure. Penning's experience at LT should keep Ramczyk on the right side initially, especially with reliable veteran G/T James Hurst as a fallback option if Penning develops slowly.
The Saints have had the NFL's best tandem of tackles in Ramczyk and Armstead since 2017. Trevor Penning needs to hone his footwork, but has the physicality and technical traits to allow New Orleans to continue their dominance along both edges.