Aztecs' Rashaad Penny shines at NFL Combine

San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny burst into the conversation among the top running backs Friday at the 2018 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

At least NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah tried to talk about Penny after the senior from Norwalk posted one of the event’s fastest 40-yard dash times.

Jeremiah’s co-host, Charles Davis, didn’t bite after Penny ran a 4.46, which was tied for third with Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage. Only North Carolina State’s Nyheim Hines (4.38) and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley (4.40) posted faster times.

“We came in talking about 10 of these guys being graded in the top three rounds and outside of Ronald Jones from USC getting hurt in the 40, I thought all of them delivered,” Jeremiah said at the top of a five-minute NFL Network video titled “Which RBs made impressions during on-field workouts?” that was posted shortly after Day 1 concluded. “You look at a guy like Rashaad Penny and you could go on and on and on down the list.”

A teaser for more on Penny’s performance at the combine? Nope.

The next few minutes went on to video highlights at the combine of Barkley, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and LSU’s Derrius Guice, followed by a graphic of the four players as “notable RBs” at the combine.

“You see the numbers right here,” Jeremiah said, referring to the graphic, before adding, “Rashaad Penny, by the way, not listed, 4.46 in the 40 today. I thought he helped himself today coming off a big Senior Bowl.”

Other measurables for Penny at the Combine included a 32.5-inch vertical jump and 10-foot broad jump. He had 13 reps on the 225-pound bench press, his one below average mark on the day.

Playing second fiddle to players from Power Five schools is nothing new for Penny, who has had to prove himself time and again the past year.

He led the nation in rushing with a school-record 2,248 yards, although he was not a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s outstanding running back.

Penny stood out last month at the Senior Bowl, earning co-MVP honors for the South team after rushing nine times for 64 yards and catching a 73-yard pass for a touchdown.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. called Penny “spectacular” in recent comments and suggested that the running back could be a middle- to high-second round draft pick.

“I have him right now as the fifth-highest-rated running back,” Kiper said. “He could end up being the third-highest-rated running back and, after all is said and done, maybe the second-highest rated.”

It will be interesing to see where Penny stands now after his Combine efforts.’s draft profile for Penny grades him at 5.83, with the corresponding comment: “Chance to become NFL starter.”

The website lists Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami and the N.Y. Jets as the four teams with running back among the team’s top three position needs.

The Browns pick first and fourth in the first round and could fill needs at both quarterback and running back with those picks. If they don’t choose a running back in the first round, it could create an opportunity for Penny when the Browns select first at the start of the second round. Cleveland also owns the third and 32nd picks in the second round.

The draft will be held April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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