1) Introduction: The Packers are known for being able to find the “diamond in the rough” when it comes to undrafted rookie free agents and this year Mike Pennel was the surprise addition on the 53-man final roster. Is Pennel the real deal or just a flash in the pan?
- Age: 23
- Born: May 9, 1991, Aurora, Colorado
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 332
- College: Colorado State University – Pueblo
- Rookie Year: 2011
- NFL Experience: R
3) Expectations coming into the season: Get on the roster, as a rookie free agent with a checkered history including stops at 2 universities and a junior college, Pennel had all the physical talent in the world but had yet to show he was mature enough to get the job done. With so many rookies and free agents looking to make the team, Pennel was looking more at a practice squad spot really than any place on the team. However, Pennel showed glimpses of the brilliance that once labeled him as a “once in 20 years” type of talent at Arizona state and managed to make the team alongside Jayrone Elliott.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: While Pennel didn’t get many chances on the field, especially with the resurgence of Letroy Guion, Pennel’s best game was against the Carolina Panthers where he proved a rock in the center against the running game (which admittedly the Panthers threw out half way through the first quarter for some inexplicable reason) but outside of that Pennel had mostly a down or average season. By far his worse game was against Dallas in the playoffs where a big nose tackle likely would have helped stop the Cowboys stud offensive line and star running back but Pennel was largely ineffective.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Below average. In all fairness it’s not like anyone was expecting all that much from him; undrafted rookie players for the Packers typically don’t contribute all that much, and the traditional nose tackle position is slowly being phased out for smaller, quicker defensive linemen (see Ryan Pickett for Letroy Guion). Surprisingly for such a big man, Pennel graded out better at rushing the quarterback than he did stopping the run (then again so did the rest of the Packers defense). If he can learn to be more of an anchor in the middle against the run, the Packers might have found another diamond in the rough.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Incomplete. Pennel only played 13 snaps total in the playoffs, so it’s very hard to make any sort of fair assessment. While as mentioned above Pennel recorded his worse game against the Cowboys, it was only 6 snaps so not much can be made from it.
7) Intangibles: Pennel is a scouting nightmare, with all the talent in the world coupled by all the off-field issues you can imagine. If Pennel can keep his head down and out of the headlines, Pennel could at very worse become a solid rotational defensive linemen in the future.
Season Report Card (Player Grades):
(B) Level of expectations met during the season
(C) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(INC) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: C——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.
10 thoughts on “Mike Pennel 2014 Report Card – Packers Player Grades”
I agree with your grade. And expect bright future for Mike…
I think the big thing is that Pennel and all the players like him show some improvement in year two. Almost every year there is a diamond in the rough player who shines in preseason, does alright during the regular season and then falls off the cliff during year 2 (Vic So’oto, Frank Zombo, Erik Walden, Dezman Moses etc etc.)
Ah, well. There is always danger of the 2nd year wall for players… But, somehow I think that Mike Pennel, largely because of his troubled college years will avoid that second year fall of the cliff or hitting the wall. For me that problems he had off the field was talking more of his intelligence (he is sparkling, what is not the best characteristic for playing in college team, they prefer silent and hardworking players), which was telling him that he is better than most of his colleagues, so it was not easy to keep him controlled. Now, he is full of respect, everybody around him is better than he is (but not better of what he might become), so he finally understand if he wants to play NFL he has to work hard and at full speed… This is how I see him…
a lot to be excited about with this guy. He and Raji will be great for us next year
I would temper your enthusiasm at least until they resign Raji, if they want to at all.
Agree with the comments, even with the grade. 171 defensive snaps is more than one might have expected, though there was the usual inconsistency and it appeared that Pennel got fewer and fewer snaps later in the year.
Pennel better work hard this off-season. Assuming GB re-signs Raji, it looks like Raji, Daniels, Boyd and Datone are locks. Thornton probably makes the team since TT won’t want to give up on a 3rd rd pick. That is 5 spots, Pennel would be 6, and GB usually only keeps 6. I don’t know if Boyd can back-up Raji at NT (reports were that Boyd weighed in last year at 328 Lbs.). Highly likely GB takes a DL in the draft, quite possibly high, maybe even in the 1st round. Any DL taken in the first 4 or 5 rounds would make Pennel’s future in GB very uncertain.
If anything, I think Raji is probably looking to drop weight as opposed to Boyd gaining it. The Packers have definitely switched from giant defensive linemen to smaller and quicker players. A couple years ago the starting lineup was BJ Raji, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly. Now it’s Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion and Datone Jones.
And how’s that working out for ya [GB}?
Sorry, couldn’t resist. I suppose we have to have some decent ILBs before we can assess the change in philosophy.
To be honest, I’m not sure how its working out for GB.
According to Football Outsiders, the Packers defensive line has been poor in run defense basically since 2011, they’ve ranked 22nd and lower, bottoming out at 30th in 2011. On pass rushing, they had two really good years in 2013 and 2012 where they ranked 4th and 5th but also ranked dead last in 2011 and sort of average this year at 13.
You would expect to see smaller defensive linemen translate into better pass rush and worse run defense but it hasn’t seem to do either really. In the end I think we’ll have to give them more time before we find out if their philosophical change actually makes them a better team.
I’ve known Pennel since 2010. He is soft spoken and has great values. He may have had some moments of fun as a 19 or 20 year old but who are you to judge/be hypocritical? One word I wouldn’t use to describe him is immature. He is and will be a game changer given the opportunity. Doubt him if you want but you will be seeing a lot more of him in the next coming decade. $100 million dollar man that we’re talking about.
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