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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — History is only five weeks away for former Northern Iowa offensive lineman Trevor Penning.
A widely projected first-round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft, Penning is poised to break UNI’s program record as its highest ever pick, and the Clear Lake native only added to his chances during Monday afternoon’s pro day at the UNI-Dome.
The 6-foot-7, 325-pound left tackle benched 225 pounds 29 times after forgoing the bench press at the NFL combine earlier this month.
Penning did not participate in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone or 20-yard shuttle Monday, instead choosing to stick with the numbers he put up in those events at the combine — a 4.89-second 40, 28-inch vertical jump, 111-inch broad jump, 7.25-second 3-cone and 4.62-second 20-yard shuttle — and only participate in agility and positional drills with scouts from all 32 teams in attendance.
UNI Coach Mark Farley told The Gazette everything he’s heard indicates Penning will in fact be a first-round selection.
“The tenacity of his play has separated him a lot,” Farley said. “I hear a lot about how he finishes blocks. They like that edge that he plays with, because that’s hard to find in players.”
Asked about the potential program impact of having its first first-round selection, Farley pointed out how David Johnson and Spencer Brown have and continue to help grow UNI’s brand.
“There’s a lot of credibility to our brand, and when I say the brand, it’s our logo. So, when people see the UNI football logo at these all-star games and in a football camp they think of (the) Browns, Pennings (and) Johnsons,” Farley said. “It sets a stage for our new guys now, but there’s no question Trevor has taken it to another level with possibly being a first rounder.”
Meanwhile, UNI receiver Isaiah Weston continued to make a compelling case as a day-three draft selection.
The 6-4, 214-pound wide receiver didn’t participate in the bench press and 40-yard dash — choosing to stick with what he registered at the combine — but registered a 4.36 20-yard shuttle and a 7.19 3-cone, unofficially.
“I’ve even heard after the combine that he could be a second-day pick,” Farley said of Weston. “At the end of the day I think his injuries he’s overcome have made him tougher, but yet it’s his injuries that have maybe put a question mark on some of the things when they come in here and look at him.”
All-America defensive tackle Jared Brinkman, linebacker Alfonzo Lambert Jr., cornerback Austin Evans, running back Bradrick Shaw and tight end Kyle Fourtenbary were among the other Panthers participating in the pro day.
Brinkman, whose 5-11 frame is a significant hurdle to catch the eye of NFL scouts, put up eye-popping numbers with 34 bench press repetitions and a 33 1/2-inch vertical. Farley told The Gazette those two numbers are right near the top among all draft prospects for the Iowa City native at his position.
“Once he gets into camp he’ll make the team because he’s tenacious,” Farley said. “It’s just the tangible numbers of height and arm length don’t fit an NFL squad right now, but you put him on a football field and that won’t matter because his heart will override everything.”
The 2022 NFL Draft begins April 28.