Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
If Alabama’s Evan Neal or North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu were for some reason still available at #6, they’d be prime candidates to bolster the tackle position for the Panthers. But given how unlikely that is, we’ll instead focus on Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning.
Penning is a massive (6’7” 327) and powerful player that dominated the Missouri Valley Conference this past year. He’s got more raw power than Charles Cross, and as such may be more suited to play on the right side of the line. He does have a good anchor though as defenders who tried to bull rush him had little success. Penning is an aggressive player with a mean streak who loves to get after defenders in the running game, pancaking them and then finishing his blocks all the way to the ground. If the Carolina Panthers want to focus on the running game with Christian McCaffrey more, then they may opt for Penning over Cross, assuming both are available.
Penning is not quite as flexible as Cross and isn’t as good of an athlete. This is likely why he’s been projected to go toward the middle of the first round rather than at the top. But he does possess the requisite length that most standout offensive tackles have, and he’s shown that he can use his straight-line quickness to create running lanes for ball carriers.
Penning is a smart player with good awareness, and has shown that he can use his hands well within the frame of the defender to lock and steer him to the desired spot. Whoever selects Penning in the first round will be getting a nice piece with the physical tools to be a productive NFL tackle for years to come.