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Seahawks trade down, draft San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny in first round of NFL Draft

UPDATED: Thu., April 26, 2018

Rashaad Penny led the nation with 2,248 rushing yards and scored 23 touchdowns as a senior at San Diego State. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Rashaad Penny led the nation with 2,248 rushing yards and scored 23 touchdowns as a senior at San Diego State. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Death, taxes and the Seahawks trading their first-round pick.

As just about everybody figured they’d do, the Seahawks on Thursday night traded their original first round pick, No. 18 overall, to Green Bay, getting the Packers’ pick at No. 27 (which Green Bay had just acquired from the New Orleans Saints) as well as picks in the third round (76) and sixth round (186). Seattle also gives pick number 248 in the seventh round to Green Bay.

Seattle then used the 27th pick to take running back Rashaad Penny of San Diego State, a 5-foot-10, 220-pounder who figures to compete immediately at a position of obvious need for the Seahawks.

Seattle had one of its worst rushing seasons in team history last year, with just one rushing touchdown from a tailback and ending the season with Mike Davis as the leading rusher among tailbacks with just 240 yards, far behind the 586 of quarterback Russell Wilson.

Penny led the nation with 2,248 yards last season with the Aztecs and also scored 23 touchdowns. He was generally considered as likely to be taken in the second or third round.

Wrote NFL.com of Penny: “Volume-carry running back who plays with an active running style that rarely sees him slow his feet. Penny has the short-area foot quickness to create yardage for himself, but he doesn’t really have the burst or long speed to be a home-run hitter. His motor gives him a chance to be a productive NFL starter, but he may lack the explosiveness to be a great back.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Penny led the nation last year in missed tackles forced at 86, eight more than the next running back on the list, Stanford’s Bryce Love.

It’s only the third time in team history Seattle has taken a running back in the first round, the others being Curt Warner in 1983 (third overall) and Shaun Alexander in 2000 (19th).

Seattle entered the draft with just four running backs on the roster – Davis, Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic – making the tailback spot a position of obvious need.

Penny was the second running back taken in the draft – Penn State’s Saquon Barkley went second to the Giants. Several running backs who had been projected to go in the first round were still available when the Seahawks picked, notably LSU’s Derrius Guice and Georgia’s Sony Michel.

Seattle has now traded its initial first-round pick every year since 2011 and has also now traded down in the first round to acquire more picks five times in the past seven years (the other two years trading it for Percy Harvin in 2013 and Jimmy Graham in 2015).

Getting a third-rounder – and at least one pick on the second day of the draft – was regarded as a goal for the Seahawks, as they did not have picks in the second or third round entering the day. Had Seattle not traded, it could have gone from No. 18 to No. 120 without making a pick.

Seattle traded the second-rounder to the Jets last September as part of the deal for now-departed defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, and the third-rounder for Texans left tackle Duane Brown last October.

“I wish we had a second-rounder and a third-rounder, but we went for it,” Seattle general manager John Schneider said this week. “So here we are, and now we’ve got to figure it out. It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.”

It’s one the Seahawks have solved for now, though Seattle could still seek to trade down even more.

Seattle now has nine picks in the draft. The Seahawks may try to get to 10 or 11 picks, as they’re looking to add young talent to the roster.

Green Bay used the 18th pick to take cornerback Jaire Alexander of Louisville.

The last time Seattle used its original first-round pick came in 2011, when the Seahawks selected Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter at No. 25.

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