NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Rashaad Penny (Fantasy Football)

by Mitchell Renz | @mitchellrenz365 | Featured Writer
Mar 28, 2018

The 2018 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and after a solid NFL scouting combine San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny has been a popular name in fantasy football. Penny played in the Mountain West conference against mediocre competition, which makes it hard to translate how talented he truly is. Look at the Aztecs running back who entered the NFL last year, Donnel Pumphrey, who hasn’t been able to find the field with the Philadelphia Eagles. But you can also look at a player like Kareem Hunt who was overlooked because he played at Toledo. Once Hunt gained the starting role with the Kansas City Chiefs there was no looking back as he went on to lead the NFL in rushing his rookie season with 1,327 yards.

Penny played four years at San Diego State where he carried the ball 487 times for 3,643 yards (7.5 ypc) and 38 touchdowns. It wasn’t until his senior season when he became the primary ball carrier, and he absolutely torched defenses leading the country with 2,248 rushing yards and scoring 23 touchdowns. He received first-team All-American and All-Mountain West honors, plus finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy race. Penny has the ideal NFL size and college production, but I’m not totally sold on him.

I’ve been asked multiple times on Twitter (@MitchellRenz365) “what’s a good NFL comparison for [insert player name]?” This is a great question considering how elite rookie running backs have been and the uncertainty of how college players will translate into the NFL. Therefore, I wanted to write NFL Draft blind comparison articles. To read my others click the links below:

To avoid internet trolls when comparing players to current or past NFL players, I use blind comparisons. I’m an advocate of blind comparisons because it’s an effective method to ensure impartiality and avoid bias.

Below is a tweet from my personal twitter account of three running backs. One is Penny, one is a current running back in the NFL and the other is a free agent.

Player A is Penny. As you can see, he has a similar build and BMI to players B and C. You can also notice that Penny moves well for being 220 pounds but lacks explosion in his legs.

For strengths, Penny has the ideal size of an NFL running and has shown he is able to handle a heavy workload while staying productive. Penny is a patient runner who remains in control of his situation by dictating blockers and teasing defenders. Despite not being asked to catch the football in college, Penny has pretty good hands and can catch when asked. If he finds a hole and it’s off to the races, not many defenders are going to be able to catch him.

For weaknesses, Penny is an upright runner who will struggle to break tackles in the NFL. Despite his size, he isn’t as powerful as desired and doesn’t bring on contact even against smaller defenders. He may be one of the worst blocking running backs in the 2018 NFL Draft, which will limit his upside to being a three-down running back. He has a tendency to try and hit the home run play and get happy feet behind the line of scrimmage which will result in negative plays in the NFL.

Back to the question, “what’s a good NFL comparison for Rashaad Penny?” He is a mix of Player B and C. Player B shares Penny’s body type and upright running style. Penny’s straight-line speed and running style remind me of Player C.

Player B is Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery. Montgomery was a wide receiver in college but has since been turned into a running back. In his three years in the NFL, Montgomery has carried the ball 151 times for 744 yards (4.9 ypc) and six touchdowns. Montgomery is a much better receiver than Penny but their body types are very similar. Both Penny and Montgomery are built like a true workhorse running back. Their weaknesses are what I really want to highlight. Montgomery runs upright just like Penny and my fear is it leads to injuries just like it’s plagued Montgomery. Plus Montgomery is one of the worst pass-blocking running backs in the league. It’s why he is never going to be a three-down running back in the NFL.

Player C is free agent running back Bernard Pierce. He was drafted in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. In his four years, he carried the ball 359 times for 1,345 yards and five touchdowns. Penny is a one-cut runner just like Pierce. Even though Penny is slightly faster than Pierce, they both share straight-line speed. Pierce was a stud at Temple who scored 27 rushing touchdowns his final season. He wasn’t able to translate his game to the NFL because he wasn’t able to evade and break away from NFL caliber tacklers.

So Montgomery’s body type, upright running style, and poor pass blocking + Pierce’s straight-line speed and overall skills = Rashaad Penny. Normally after my player equations, I put some silly joke about it being rocket science so I won’t do that this time because if I had a Penny for everytime someone told me it wasn’t funny on Twitter, I’d be rich.

In terms of his fantasy football value, here’s a Penny for my thoughts. Currently, he is the RB6 and a top 10 pick in FantasyPros Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings. That price tag is a little steep for me in terms of being a top 10 player, but he is my RB7 so I don’t totally disagree with the rankings. He will need to land on a talented team that can open up running lanes for him because he is the most dangerous in open space. If that doesn’t happen I don’t see him being very productive. More than likely Penny will land on somebody else’s team rather than mine because I think his weaknesses will outweigh the positives in how his game translates to the NFL.

That’s just my two cents on Penny, though.

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Mitchell Renz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mitchell, check out all his fantasy football articles and follow him on Twitter @mitchellrenz365.

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