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Stop That Hype Train! Rashaad Penny

With the 27th pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Rashaad Penny, running back, San Diego St. Along with this pick came the hype of being a first-round running back in a pass-heavy league.

We will have to wait and see how the pressure is handled; pressure, not just for Penny, but for the Seahawks who reached on a player who would have been there in the second or even the third round had they done the smart thing and tried to improve the offensive line instead.

Is Penny going to be a good running back? Who knows. What is known is behind the offensive line Seattle has in place, it is unlikely he can show his true potential making him a risky play both for Seattle and for you as a fourth-round fantasy draft pick.

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Sleeper? Not Even a Starter

Finishing the 2017 season with the 27th-ranked offensive line based on PFF data and starting out this season ranked at 30th, any running back is going to have a tough time, but especially a back with very limited pass-catching ability. This then means he will have to have upfront blocking to find any rookie success. With Chris Carson showing good in OTAs and at this point the starter, Penny will take a while to work into the scheme as long as Carson performs like he is capable.

Also, not boding well for the hype train of Rashaad Penny is the fact Russell Wilson has thrown more passes in each season of his career as he moves forward and becomes less of a game manager and more of an elite option at the quarterback position. With the passing game becoming more and more proficient, the role of a two-down back is going to be less relied upon making the drafting of Penny in the first round even more baffling.

Penny had a great senior season at San Diego St., with over 2,200 rushing yards and over 2,300 scrimmage yards allowing him to become an All-American selection and helping him to a fifth-place finish in Heisman voting. This was done, however, against limited competition in the Mountain West Conference which is far different then the defenses he will be facing in the NFL. Russell Wilson is a great quarterback, both in fantasy and in real game action, but if his running back cannot catch the ball as he is running for his life, he will not live up to the hype being thrust upon him this offseason.

The other knock on Penny which directly relates to his pass-catching ability is his blocking. Since the Aztecs were a run-first and second team, he was never asked to pass block, making him a liability in the pass game coming into the season. While this skill can be taught, it is not a quick lesson and other backs who have been on the roster already will have an inside track until he learns the skills needed to keep Wilson safe.

The loss of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson will leave a lot of offense up for grabs and with the addition of Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator, the Seahawks seem determined to try to run the ball, which would mean good things for Penny. The ability to run the ball is different than the want to do so, meaning we need to see first what Rashaad Penny can do until we see what is going to happen with the entire offense. If the running game can actually be established to the point where Russell Wilson is not the team's leading rusher at the end of the season, Seattle might surprise some people by having a chance at the playoffs. If not, the Seahawks will be one-dimensional and thereby as bad as expected, finishing at best with a .500 record in a division which is only looking to get better over the next few years. The likes of Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Jimmy Garoppolo are not going to make it easy to rebound.

As the Seahawks go, so goes the value of Rashaad Penny. Trailing in games and with a defense which is no longer dominant, the passing game which has become more prevalent will continue in its importance and Rashaad Penny will be left behind as a two-down back in an offense which needs a three-down back.


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