How Trevor Penning's "Aggression" And "Nastiness" Will Make Him A Bust
Why too much aggression as an offensive lineman is a negative.
When you describe some of the greatest offensive linemen of all time you'd call John Hannah nasty, or Bruce Matthews aggressive and mean. Northern Iowas Trevor Penning fits the bill; he's mean and nasty. But what Penning lacks that these greats had was control and great technique.
In a tackle heavy draft class, Penning is arguably the fourth best behind Neal, Cross, and Ekwonu and is projected to selected in the middle of the first round by the Chargers, Saints, or Eagles.
The Senior Bowl Put Eyes On Penning...But Not In A Good Way
When film from the Senior Bowl came out, a lot of people were high on Penning. The reason was because of his aggression, high motor, and "pure nastiness". Then, after really watching the film, the worm turned on Penning because his technique was so poor and he was over aggressive.
Just watch the second clip. Penning sets nicely and controls the edge rusher; but instead of running the pass rusher up field, he throws/hip tosses him into his quarterbacks leg. Desmond Ridder is lucky that he didn't get seriously injured. If I'm Ridders agent, I'm turning into Tonya Harding and treating Penning like Nancy Kerrigan for that.
That play where he nearly destroys Ridders future says a lot about Penning's play. He cares more about a "pancake" and putting a player in the dirt than protecting his quarterback. I don't know if this is because Penning has a low football IQ or if he's just too aggressive, but it needs to be fixed.
The hip toss that is traditionally frowned upon in 1v1s was a staple for Penning during the Senior Bowl. That's a garbage, bush league move that bad players use; and it's holding. He pulled it out in just about every 1v1 he had at the Senior Bowl when a player gained a step on him to the outside.
I predict that the Chargers at seventeen will take Penning; if he attempts to use a hip toss in the AFC West against Maxx Crosby, Bradley Chubb, or Chandler Jones he'll find himself on his backside.
Scouts Need To Put Penning's "Nasty Streak" Aside
Some scouts covering the Senior Bowl were STILL high on Penning (which was baffling) and the thing they loved about him was this "nasty streak". In the NFL, you need to have an edge. Some of the greatest players in league history had an edge and a nasty streak like Terrell Suggs, James Harrison, and Steve Smith; but they could rein it in and make plays. Penning hasn't yet proved that.
The edge from Penning will be needed in the NFL, but he doesn't have the technique to back it up. In the run game he consistently finds his hands outside the frame. Watch his reps from the Senior Bowl practices. His hands would fire outside and defensive ends that are three inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter are getting right to his chest and knocking him back. If he continues to run block in that manner in the NFL, he'll be called for holding and end up in his running backs lap.
Penning's pass protection is also an issue. The same way his hands fire out in the run game is how he pass sets. In the run game you can occasionally get away with your hands outside the frame, but in the pass game that'll draw a penalty. With his hands outside, he exposes his chest. This will make him susceptible to the bull rush.
When he pass sets and an edge rusher gets level with him, he immediately turns his shoulders; a major sin in the offensive lineman Bible. By turning the shoulders, Penning becomes vulnerable to a spin move or even an inside rip. Multiple traits that will get his quarterback slaughtered.
It's Not All Bad. Right?
While I may have just bashed Penning for the meat of this article, there are some positives in his game. Penning has tremendous versatility that other players in this draft don't have. He has the ability to play every offensive line position except for center which is part of the reason his stock is very high.
Penning also is very explosive. When he comes out of his stance, it's like a rocket ship launching; and that could be part of the reason that his technique is subpar. When you come out of your stance as fast as Penning does, it can lead to wild hands and sloppy play. If he is able to negate hands outside the frame and be less aggressive, he'll be a good player in this league. But as of right now, I just don't see it.