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Seahawks 2 Takes: Will RB Rashaad Penny or LB Cody Barton break out?

Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny's NFL career has been halted by injuries. (Getty)

The Seattle Seahawks have learned first-hand in recent years that landing impact players in the higher rounds of the NFL Draft is easier said than done.

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Seattle has two players on each side of the ball who could make an impact this season but aren’t going into training camp with particularly high expectations despite the team selecting them in the first three rounds.

First up is 25-year-old running back Rashaad Penny, the Seahawks’ first-round pick in the 2018 draft. He didn’t have much success as a rookie, and while there was a short period in 2019 where it looked like he and Chris Carson were going to be a formidable 1-2 punch out of Seattle’s backfield, injuries have kept him from living up to his first-round selection. The hope is that he’s fully healthy for this season after playing just three games last year due to a lengthy recovery from surgery to repair a torn ACL he suffered late in the 2019 season.

On defense, the 24-year-old Cody Barton is a third-round pick from 2018 who hasn’t missed a game since joining Seattle but has started just four of them. With K.J. Wright still a free agent, though, the Utah product appears in line to become the Seahawks’ starting strongside linebacker in 2021.

On Monday’s edition of Danny and Gallant, co-host Danny O’Neil asked two of 710 ESPN Seattle’s NFL insiders – Hall of Fame writer John Clayton and NFL on FOX color commentator Brock Huard – which of the two players they think is most likely to have a breakout season this year. Here’s a look at what they each said.

John Clayton: Cody Barton

“You’re comparing a guy who’s expected to be a starter – Cody Barton’s going to be the starter at strongside linebacker – to a backup in Rashaad Penny. Penny, knee injury or whatever, is not going to beat out Chris Carson, so for Penny to have a breakout year as a backup, how can you do it? You’re not going to be on the field as much, you’re not going to get as many carries because Chris Carson, unless he’s injured, is going to get the bulk of the carries.”

You can hear Clayton’s full response around the 22-minute mark of the podcast at this link.

Brock Huard: Rashaad Penny

“For the NFL and what you’ve got to do at linebacker from just a dynamic, twitchy, powerful (standpoint), that’s hard to do at the edge of the line of scrimmage. … Barton is similar to (fellow Seahawks linebacker) Ben Burr-Kirven – both I think profile more than anything to quality, studly special teams guys, and if one of them becomes your special teams captain in the vein of (three-time Pro Bowler and current Seahawks special teams coach) Larry Izzo… then there’s a roster spot for him. But to think he’s going to be some 250-pound Bruce Irvin (type) – set an edge, collision jet sweeps, collision tight ends, get home at times, drop into coverage, do all the things that position has to do – I have a hard time forecasting Cody Barton being that.

“I have a hard time forecasting Penny being available and being durable, too, but same with Chris Carson, so we know there will be opportunities. So breakout year, all of the sudden we look back in January and say, ‘Gosh, I didn’t see that coming from Cody Barton, I didn’t see that coming from Rashaad Penny,’ I think both of them are long-shots, but overall productivity, I think there’s more opportunity for Rashaad Penny.”

You can hear Huard’s full response in the second question of the Blue 42 segment in the podcast at this link.

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter.

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