New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Mar 4, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Northern Iowa offensive lineman Trevor Penning (OL38) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Patriots are set to host their biggest Top-30 visit so far – both literally and figuratively. According to Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network, the team will be meeting with Northern Iowa tackle Trevor Penning on Wednesday.

    Penning entered the pre-draft process projected to be a Day 2 pick. Yet after standing out at both the Senior Bowl – where he was voted Offensive Lineman of the Week by the defensive linemen he was competing against – and the NFL Combine, some now project him as a potential top-15 pick.

    A three-year starter for the Panthers who played primarily left tackle but has experience at right as well, Penning is one of the more athletic offensive linemen in this draft. His large 6-foot-7, 325 pound frame gives him plenty of room to work with moving laterally. Penning also plays the game with a real nasty demeanor, and finished block after block in one-on-one drills in Mobile.

  • Penning would be a logical selection for the Patriots if he makes it to the 21st pick – which feels like a coin flip at this point. Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have done an excellent job staying ahead of things at the position, and aside from injury situations have had just three starting left tackles since 2000 in Matt Light, Nate Solder, and Isaiah Wynn.

    With Wynn on a contract year, it could be time to add the next link to that chain. In the few times he has had to add a left tackle, Belichick has stayed a year ahead of the move. He drafted Solder in 2011, with Light on the final year of his contract. After a season at right tackle, he took over the job. When the team drafted Wynn, they also traded for Trent Brown to buy a year for Wynn’s development if needed (which ended up being the case as Wynn got hurt in the preseason and missed the year).

    There’s more to Penning being a fit then just him being a projected first-round tackle. although all three of those players were drafted with premium picks (Light in the second round, Solder and Wynn in the first) Like Light, Solder, and Wynn, he wins as much athletically as he does by being a pure mauler. Yet another point in common is his Senior Bowl participation – something we know the Patriots value. Light, Solder, and Wynn were Senior Bowl participants as well.

    Of course, for any of this to happen Penning would need to fall to the Patriots. Even if he does, the team’s recent success developing offensive linemen may have them pushing that need further down the board. That’s been the case as of late – they’ve only drafted three linemen in the top 100 (Isaiah Wynn 23rd overall in 2018, Antonio Garcia 85th overall in 2017, and Joe Thuney 78th overall in 2016) in the last 10 years.

    Who else have the Patriots met with leading up to the NFL Draft? Here’s a look at the prospects we know they’ve spoken to so far…

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