Rashaad Penny Is Among The Best Runners In This Draft Class. Will He Be A 3-Down Back In The NFL.
Rashaad Penny is one of the best pure runners in a 2018 running back class that is loaded with talent. That says something. He dominated at the collegiate level, and his running style appears ready to immediately translate to the next level.
Penny’s predecessor at San Diego State, Donnel Pumphrey, faced issues of size and durability at the next level. People questioned the way that his skill set would translate to the NFL. Some have used the same level of competition questions to knock Rashaad Penny. Don’t let that be you. Penny is a completely different type of back with a completely different skill set. Sure, Pumphrey too dominated the competition at San Diego State, but the tape shows that Rashaad Penny is a player with the build, athletic profile, and necessary skills to continue to be productive in the NFL.
Penny tested well at the combine, running a 4.46 second 40-yard dash at 220 pounds, making Rashaad Penny an ideal size/speed combo for an NFL team.
There are few questions about his ability as a running back. Many of the questions surround some of the supplementary parts of his game that may prevent him from maximizing his playing time and living up to the potential that his running ability shows he has.
Rashaad Penny Is A Tough Runner
Penny isn’t necessarily a violent or particularly powerful running back, but he does run tough and with consistent effort and leg drive. You certainly would like to see him capitalize on his size and strength a little more than he does, but he makes up for it in other ways.
What pops off his tape, is that he never gives up on a run. Penny may not run players over and he may not move the pile the way that you’d like to see, but he runs through arm tackles, he keeps his legs moving and never stops fighting for yards. When defenders try and tackle him high, he makes them pay for it.
In the play below, Penny follows his blocks and finds some nice space in the middle of the defense. Something that you will notice in a lot of Penny’s tape, something that we will get to a little later, is that Rashaad Penny doesn’t keep very good pad level. He often runs too upright, especially when navigating through traffic. What helps counter this, something you see in the play below, is that Penny is pretty good about lowering his pad level into contact. He finishes runs and gets lower when he anticipates defenders, helping to minimize the problems with his high pad level. On this run, Rashaad Penny lowers his shoulder into the defender, spins off him and continues driving for extra yards.
In the next play, watch the defenders try and tackle him at the shoulders. These are the plays where Rashaad Penny shows off his tough, effort running. Penny is able to pick up about seven yards, not just after contact, but through contact. He keeps driving, keeps moving forward, and uses his size and strength to push through the defender that made the mistake of tackling high on Penny.
Rashaad Penny doesn’t pick up a lot of extra yards on the play below, but he picks up a few, and this is exactly the type of tough running that you want to see out of your running back. He already had the first down on first contact, but it is close enough that the extra effort ensures a new set of downs. He could have tried to bounce this run outside, and it looks like he thought about it, but he instead decided to take what he could get, pick up the first down, and keep the chains moving.
You probably won’t see Rashaad Penny running defenders over on a regular basis, but he certainly can pick up some yards after contact. He makes defenders pay for poor tackling form and takes every inch that the defense will give him. He is an elusive runner that doesn’t dance too much and does a good job keeping downhill, even when making a move on a defender. Toughness as a runner, especially with the added bonus of a good frame, is certainly an asset for Rashaad Penny.