Breaking Down Rashaad Penny’s Rookie Year

Back in the late first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Seahawks used the 27th overall pick to bring San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny onto their roster. By taking Penny, the Seahawks got a perfectly-sized, every-down running back. He was also able to play on special teams.

The pick that Seattle used to take Penny was passed around multiple times on draft-night and was originally held by the New Orleans Saints before any trades occurred. It was passed around like a hot potato, first when the Saints dealt it, along with other picks, to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for the 14th overall selection (defensive end Marcus Davenport). Later on draft night, Green Bay traded the 27th pick, among others, to Seattle for the 18th overall pick (cornerback Jaire Alexander) and the 248th overall pick (linebacker Kendall Donnerson).

Penny was the second of three running backs taken in the first round and was by far the most underwhelming. His stats are no match to the Giants’ Saquon Barkley (taken before Penny), and the Patriots’ Sony Michel (taken after Penny), who both had impressive rookie years.

Barkley’s rookie campaign was Rookie-of-the-Year caliber, registering 261 carries for 1,307 yards and eleven rushing touchdowns. He was also a threat in the passing game, too. He hauled in 91 receptions for 721 yards and four receiving touchdowns. Barkley was able to stay healthy and play in all sixteen of the Giants’ games. Meanwhile, Sony Michel made the most of his opportunities in what is a pass-first offense in New England. He put up 209 carries for 931 yards and six rushing touchdowns. However, with Cordarrelle Patterson and James White being the pass-catchers out of the backfield, Michel did not have many chances as a receiver. Despite that, Sony Michel was among the best performing running backs during the Brady-Belichick era.

Penny’s stats this past season definitely were not as great as his fellow first-round running backs. He carried the ball 85 times for 419 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He also had nine receptions for 75 yards. Seattle did not utilize his skills as a kick returner well either, as he only had eight total kick returns during the regular season. Penny can’t be blamed entirely for not meeting first-round expectations, as he had to split the workload with Chris Carson, Mike Davis, J.D. McKissic, among others.  

With Davis, McKissic, and fullback Tre Madden entering free agency this offseason, Chris Carson, Penny, C.J. Prosise, and Bo Scarbrough will remain on the roster. It will be interesting to see how Penny’s production will change next season based on what happens over the course of the offseason.

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