While Trevor Penning’s blocking ability could lead to him being selected in the first round of this month’s NFL Draft, his free-throw shooting skills probably won’t lead to many looks from the NBA scouting community.
Penning, a left tackle from Northern Iowa, was one of the several prospects who met with the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month. The Eagles set up a basketball hoop for their meetings in the Hoosier state and asked prospects to test their luck at the free-throw line to gauge their competitiveness.
Trevor Penning talks shooting hoops with the Eagles
Penning is considered among the top offensive line prospects in this year’s draft. The 6-foot-7, 325-pound lineman is built like a truck. Unfortunately, he shoots free throws like former Sixers guard Ben Simmons.
“It was interesting,” Penning told Pro Football Network. “That was probably like the most unique experience. [The Eagles] had a basketball hoop, and whenever they brought you in, they were like, ‘You’re going to shoot five free throws and see what you get.’ I think I got like two.”
It’s easy for Penning to laugh at his free-throw performance because his competitiveness is evident on tape. At the Senior Bowl, he created buzz by throwing his defensive line teammates to the ground in practice.
As one longtime NFC scout told PFN, Penning’s nasty streak shows teams that he is competitive and has a desire to win. That same scout projected Penning as a first-round pick.
“I’d probably say the No. 1 thing that it stems from is the passion I have and how much I love to do it,” Penning said. “It’s kind of the way I believe football is meant to be played.”
Penning could be top pick in program’s history
The Northern Iowa program might not be at the top of most football fans’ minds, but it has produced some notable talent over the years. Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner and former Pro Bowl running back David Johnson are among the program’s most famous alums, but Penning could blow them out of the water from a draft perspective later this month.
Warner was famously undrafted, while Johnson was selected in the third round in 2015. Center Brad Meester owns the highest draft position in program history, as he was selected in the second round (60th overall) by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2000.
Penning is expected to be a top-40 pick, and a first-round selection is a possibility.
“It would mean a ton,” Penning said. “You look at all of the great players that have come out of there, and to say you could be potentially the highest guy drafted, I think would be super cool to say.”
Penning has gone from receiving two major scholarship offers — Northern Iowa and South Dakota — to knocking on the door of a potential first-round selection after adding 80 pounds during his college career.
That’s not too shabby for a Clear Lake, Iowa native and mediocre free-throw shooter.
“I think my combination of athleticism, along with my strength and power — finishing ability — I’m a full package,” Penning said. “I think there’s not many flaws in my game. I think a lot of guys can’t say they have that, and I think I have that. I’m super coachable and I’m a super humble guy that just wants to work his tail off and be the best that I can be.”