The New Orleans Saints arguably took the best remaining offensive tackle in the draft in Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning, but don’t expect him to replace Terron Armstead so easily.
As the 19th overall pick in the 2022 draft, Penning undisputedly filled a need for the Saints on the offensive line. After losing Armstead to the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans needed quality O-line reinforcements and took a calculated risk on the talented but somewhat unrefined Penning.
Will Penning live up to the team’s lofty expectations?
Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton projected every 2022 first-round pick’s projected Year 1 impact for their respective teams and had Penning recording 11 penalties and five sacks in 2022.
"Penning is an incredibly gifted 6’7″, 325-pound athlete.However, work is needed for Penning to be a reliable blocker without help. His hand usage and leverage are inconsistent, which cause him to reach too often on blocks. His nastiness also extends beyond the whistle at times, making him vulnerable to personal-foul penalties.The upside is tremendous, but expect this year to have growing pains."
Wharton notes that Penning plays with a “nastiness” that extends beyond the whistle, which could cause Penning to get called for more penalties this season.
New Orleans Saints need to keep expectations realistic for OT Trevor Penning
Injuries decimated the Saints’ O-line in 2021, drastically minimizing the efficiency of both the run and passing game. If the Saints want to compete for a postseason spot this year, they have to start by winning in the trenches, and that’s where Penning comes in.
Penning enters NOLA as Terron Armstead’s perceived plug-and-play replacement, but he will likely need more time to adapt to the scheme and develop into a bonafide starting-caliber tackle.
Behind Penning, veteran James Hurst can take snaps at left tackle, and his role in 2022 will likely fluctuate between starter and backup depending on how well Penning plays. Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Erik McCoy, and Cesar Ruiz form the rest of the starting O-line as a solid albeit occasionally underperforming unit.
Penning could very well thrive under the tutelage of NOLA’s grizzled and experienced offensive linemen, but given his skillset he may require more refinement and coaching before becoming a reliable starter on the line.
Expect Penning to notch a few sacks in his first year, but not much more than that. He’s still a work in progress.