New Orleans Saints left tackle Trevor Penning experienced a wasted rookie campaign in 2022. The Saints are expecting big things from Penning’s sophomore season and he is a strong candidate to enjoy a breakthrough year in 2023.
The No. 19 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis actually acquired the Penning pick from the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a rare pre-draft trade that involved multiple first-round picks. It signaled how interested Loomis was in drafting an offensive tackle with Penning’s pedigree.
Loomis’ line of thinking was straightforward. Penning was drafted as the replacement for Terron Armstead. The cash-strapped Saints couldn’t afford to re-sign Armstead, who landed himself a five-year contract worth $75 million with the Miami Dolphins in unrestricted free agency. Penning had big shoes to fill, but multiple injuries robbed him of his fruitful opportunity.
Penning was ruled out indefinitely after tearing a ligament in his toe during a late August preseason contest against the Los Angeles Chargers. Penning was carted off the field and required surgery. He ended up totaling just 124 offensive snaps throughout the season as a result and was mostly utilized as a sixth blocker. Penning’s lone start occurred in New Orleans’ regular-season finale against the Carolina Panthers, where he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his other foot.
Albeit through a small sample size, Penning’s performance was an expected mixed bag as a rookie tackle that spent more time in the rehab room than the meeting room. Penning was credited with allowing two pressures and one quarterback hit. A raw product coming out of Northern Iowa, Penning earned a pass-blocking grade of 38.7 from Pro Football Focus.
Penning didn’t have proper acclimation time to prepare for his rookie campaign. Now healthy and available, Penning is taking advantage of a regular offseason training program. He’s expected to fulfill his destiny as the Saints’ left tackle of the future.
As a prospect, Penning was a terrific athlete with eye-opening explosion and agility. He earned a reputation as a nasty, physical finisher in the run game. Penning is extremely powerful at the point of attack and his temperament is partially what drew Loomis to him throughout the pre-draft process.
With a nightmare debut campaign behind him, the Saints are expecting Penning to develop into their starting blindside protector in 2023. Last year’s starter was James Hurst, who will continue to breathe down Penning’s neck if the Clear Lake, Iowa native isn’t ready. Penning must prove his injury woes are behind him.
Penning’s rookie season went off the rails due to a string of unfortunate injuries. He still possesses all of the standout traits that made him worthy of a first-round selection. The stars are finally aligning for Penning to experience his breakout campaign.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023