NFL Draft Scouting Report: Rashaad Penny

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Rashaad Penny is a second-year starter at running back who emerged as the feature back for San Diego State after Donnel Pumphrey left for the NFL a year ago. He was a three-star recruit out of high school. Penny has been an impact player on special teams throughout his collegiate career, earning two consecutive Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year awards in 2015 and 2016. He has the second-most kick return yards in school history. He broke out as a runner this past season, leading the country with 2,248 yards and finishing fifth in the Heisman voting.

The Lions met with Penny at the NFL Combine.

The Aztec’s lined Penny up in the dot, often behind a fullback in a power-based run scheme that used a ton of pullers and lead blockers inside. He wasn’t involved much in the passing game. Penny possesses a strong frame at 220 pounds with below average athletic ability with solid agility and balance, adequate acceleration and explosion, and marginal quickness and chance of direction skills.



Pro Position(s)



Prospect (Last, First)

Penny, Rashaad

DOB (Age)


Scout Name (Last, First)

Trapp, Zack

Height Weight 40 YD 10 YD Arm Hand Vert 3Cone SS Broad Bench
5110 224lbs. 4.46s 1.58s 31 4/8 9 2/8 32.5” n/a n/a 1000 13reps


Penny is an excellent Gap scheme runner than follows his lead blockers and has the patience and trust to pause for a beat and give his blocks time to develop. He’s willing to fight through muddy pictures and slide through small cracks. Penny has a good feel to identify backside cutback lanes on both man and zone blocking concepts. On outside zone runs, he has good judgement of when to hit the bend and bang reads. He can use subtle shakes to open the hips of penetrating defenders.

As he comes through the hole, Penny is decisive to pick his path and get vertical quickly with no hesitation. He has enough burst to press the path of slower linebackers at the 2nd level. He carries the ball high and tight and will protect with two hands in tight quarters. Penny doesn’t go down easily and drops his shoulders and looks to deliver with his pads rather than receive. The back bruises and drives his feet through contact and always falls forward. In the open field, Penny can utilize a nasty stiff arm to finish runs.

In pass protection, he displays solid timing and judgement to chop free blitzers.


Penny always wants to be getting upfield. He will look to cut upfield too quickly rather than press potentially good lanes outside. He lacks the lateral burst to get to the outside and can be run down from the backside from penetrating linebackers. Penny lacks an explosive second gear.

At the second level, Penny lacks the contact balance to run through arm and ankle tackles consistently. He’s a stiff player that lacks the wiggle to make defenders miss in space. Penny doesn’t have the foot speed to finish big runs.

Penny is a non-factor in the passing game. He never looked comfortable coming out of the backfield as a receiver and lacks the easy hands to pluck the ball out of the air. Penny isn’t overly interested in pass protection. He doesn’t identify late blitzes from either linebackers or defensive backs. The back plays with with pad level and catches rather than delivers blocks.


As a pure runner, Penny offers one of the better packages in this class due to his excellent vision, patience, and power that make him a snug fit in a power running scheme. However, in an increasingly space-based league, Penny’s wholesale limitations in the passing game could keep him off the field early in his career. He could provide a strong early-down compliment to the lighting of Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah and provide an immediate presence on special teams.

Grade: 5.80(Potential Starter)

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