42. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (VIA WSH): T TREVOR PENNING, NORTHERN IOWA PANTHERS
Colts fans will like that Penning’s player comparison in the PFF Draft Guide is their former long-time starting left tackle, Anthony Castonzo.
The Northern Iowa product is a high-level athlete at 6-foot-7, 325 pounds and plays with a killer mindset — so much so that he might need to tone it down a bit.
While he did rack up 33 big-time blocks against lesser competition in 2021, he also drew 16 penalties. Pairing that playstyle right next to Quenton Nelson would be menacing.
The physically imposing 6’7”, 325 pound offensive tackle (with 34 1/4” arms) made 12 starts for the Panthers in 2021—earning First-Team All-MVFC honors. At his massive size, he ran a really impressive 4.89 forty at the NFL Combine, has a RAS of 9.96 out of a maximum 10.0, and was a member of ‘Bruce Feldman’s 2021 college football freaks list’:
69. Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa, offensive tackle
Last year, Northern Iowa had an offensive tackle who blossomed into a Freak, Spencer Brown, and it has another one on the other side of the line who is even stronger and nastier, though Penning isn’t as light-footed as the Buffalo Bills’ third-rounder. Penning, 6-7, 340 pounds, came from a small private school in north Iowa. He’s put on about 100 pounds since coming to Northern Iowa. Coaches have become used to watching film and seeing him drive D-linemen off the frame.
“We treat him like a mythical creature,” said UNI O-line coach Ryan Clanton. “He watches “Saw” on his phone before games…. We treat him like Bigfoot and we don’t look him in the eyes.”
Penning squats 625 and cleans 385 and has a size 17 shoe. He probably won’t run the 40 in the 4.8s like Brown did, but they expect him to be around 5.0, which is just as impressive considering he’s almost 20 pounds heavier.
He also participated in this year’s Senior Bowl, which is always something the Colts really like seeing in their pre-draft evaluation process. He was named the top offensive lineman on the National Team—on a vote from defensive line and linebacker practice groups.
The Colts were rumored to have interest in Penning’s former Northern Iowa teammate, Spencer Brown, before the Buffalo Bills snatched him up with the 93rd overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Penning piques their interest in the pre-draft evaluation process as well—given that they’re both athletic big men that can move well in the trenches, as well as simply move bodies on the field.
At his sheer size, Penning is known for playing with a very nasty demeanor—and through the whistle, and would fit right in with his potential tag-team partner in crime, 4x NFL All-Pro Quenton Nelson, along the left side of the Colts’ starting offensive line. He blocks with great playing strength and shows good bend and athleticism for his large stature. However, his pass blocking technique could use some further refinement, and there may be a bit of a learning curve going up against NFL caliber speed edge rushers.
Here’s what they’re saying on Penning:
Trevor Penning's run blocking tape is just a montage of him absolutely bodying dudes pic.twitter.com/WTyztwRR4i— Ben Linsey (@PFF_Linsey) March 30, 2022
Trevor Penning plays nasty in every drill lmao. He's doing his best to start a fight pic.twitter.com/qcMWWQrg5Z— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 3, 2022
OT Trevor Penning is an interesting prospect, lots of good reps on tape especially in run game, but stuff to clean up (syncing 2 hand punch with feet etc.) However, the Flags...— Luke Carr (TD4LC) (@LukeCarrNFL) March 28, 2022
16 in 12 games is A LOT and these penalties at the end of plays simply have to disappear in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/Lzwi1znZS9
OT Trevor Penning— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) November 10, 2021
Call him 'physical' or 'nasty' or 'mauler' or even 'dirty' for all I care
Does he look to finish you every chance he gets? Yep.
Is he going to give you the last shove? Yep.
Will he try to dump you over the pile? Yep.
Will he drop the groceries on you? Yep. pic.twitter.com/zptxztsULX
This is what a 1st round left tackle looks like.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 16, 2021
Clean movements from a 6-7, 329 pounder with 35” arms, easy power and nasty play personality. #NorthernIowa OT Trevor Penning has been impressive. pic.twitter.com/6JrgRl8D85
Northern Iowa T Trevor Penning comps his own game to Taylor Lewan— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) March 3, 2022
“Playing nasty is how I believe offensive line is meant to be played — you want to see the fear in his eyes”
Finally got around to watching Trevor Penning. Sheesh. Talk about a bully of a blocker. He's always throwing- people on the ground. Game film matches the nasty streak he showed at the Senior Bowl. There may be some penalties, but he's a tone-setter. Just can't lunge as much.— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) February 23, 2022
Here’s every 1-on-1 I could find of Trevor Penning at Senior Bowl practice. Yes, we all love how he “finishes nasty”, but I care much more about results. I’m assuming this is the first time he’s ever gone against top competition, and it looks like he lost more than he won #Giants pic.twitter.com/erBmmZhf1V— Will Presti (@WillPresti) March 8, 2022
Trevor Penning at RG and here comes a pancake. That grip strength and upper body are so nasty. Thought the C had a lot to do with it, but not so much. pic.twitter.com/ShZW1kDFG2— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) February 2, 2022
First-round left tackle prospect Trevor Penning is a name to know at the Senior Bowl this week for the #Patriots. Great size/length (6-7, 320) and check out the balance/feet/posture on the first clip. Second clip is upper-body/grip strength. Lot to like. pic.twitter.com/opExKv3XV1— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 31, 2022
Trevor Penning is trying his damndest to start a fight today at the final senior bowl practice— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) February 3, 2022
Certainly gonna be a dude who sets a certain tone wherever he goes
Florida DL Zach Carter said Trevor Penning was the toughest OL he faced at the Senior Bowl. And Evan Neal was the toughest he faced this season.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 4, 2022
The Colts appear comfortable entering the season with recently re-signed offensive tackle Matt Pryor along the blindside, but general manager Chris Ballard did attempt to retain veteran free agent Eric Fisher (presumably to remain the starting left tackle) earlier this offseason, so the door may not be completely shut on another addition at the position.
Pryor appears competent enough to handle the job going forward, but his elevation does hinder the Colts’ offensive line depth—as he was their top swing-tackle last season (for a franchise that has otherwise recently struggled filling such a role), so drafting another talented offensive tackle at some point in this year’s NFL Draft simply makes sense.
Penning seems to fit a lot of what the Colts look for, as he’s a tone-setter, who plays tough and physical in the trenches and would assuredly help open up some running holes for All-Pro Jonathan Taylor and their power running game. It’s just a matter of whether they feel like his pass protection can further develop and improve—as there’s some work to be done.