Detroit has lacked a superstar back for two decades, but with a draft class loaded with running back talent 2018 could be the year that finally changes.
The Detroit Lions running back woes have gone on far too long. I had just turned six years old when Barry Sanders retired. To be honest, I don’t have any memory of watching Barry live in action. For many of us younger Lions fans, we’ve never got to witness a Motor City team with a superstar running back.
But there’s hope, with a draft class rich with running back talent, general manager Bob Quinn is one pick away from flipping the tables on the run problem that’s haunted the Lions for nearly two decades. One back in particular, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny might be exactly who Lions fans have been waiting for.
Penny led the Nation in 2017 with an outstanding 2,248 rushing yards. He scored 23 touchdowns on 289 carries and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, earning himself first-team All-American and All-Mountain West honors. Penny also tied the record for most kickoff returned touchdowns with seven in his three year college career.
Penny was awarded South’s co-MVP in the Senior Bowl last month. He ran nine times during the Senior showcase for 63-yards, as well as catching a 73-yard touchdown pass from Virginia’s Kurt Benkert.
Penny has the size to be an every down back in the NFL. He’s a powerful back that bursts through the line of scrimmage. He runs with short controlled strides that allow him to quickly alter his path to avoid tacklers and continue to gain positive yardage.
San Diego State @ Arizona State (9/9/17)
Nevada vs. San Diego State (11/18/17)
2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl (1/27/18)
Penny’s draft stock is quickly rising. His story could be very similar to Kansas City Chief’s Kareem Hunt, who Washington selected in the third round of the 2017 draft. If Penny is still on the board when the Lions are on the board with the 51st pick in the 2nd round there’s no way Bob Quinn could pass up on the young back. Penny wore the same number at San Diego State that Barry Sanders wore for Detroit, number 20. It almost seems like fate, doesn’t it?