Penn signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006 when Gruden was coach there. He played for Gruden for three seasons.
Penn enjoyed playing for Gruden because of what he brought out of him, and he’s expecting more of the same when he teaches the younger Raiders’ players.
“He got out a lot out of me when I started playing,” Penn said this week. “That’s what he does. He loves to develop young players and he loves watching them grow. I’m a walking testament of it.”
Most of the drafted rookies will see playing time in the preseason finale against the host Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.
In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Raiders went defense heavy, selecting defensive tackle P.J. Hall (second round), defensive end Arden Key (third round), cornerback Nick Nelson (fourth round), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (fifth round) and linebacker Azeem Victor (sixth round).
Penn said he’s enjoying seeing his younger teammates learn from one of the best coaches he’s played for.
“Him staying on those young guys is great,” he said. “He’s going to compliment you when you do it right and he’s going to let you know when you do it wrong. He’s going to let everybody know when you do it wrong. That’s a good thing because that’s going to raise a level of standard.”
Initially, Penn wasn’t sure about the 6-foot-4 Key when he was watching from afar at organized team activities in May.
“I was like saying ‘ah, he’s all right. I don’t know.’ “ he said. “He came into training camp and took a huge leap forward from OTAs to training camp. He’s doing great things. Key is very superb.”
Penn said he likes “Hurst coming out of college and I’m sorry he dropped” but is fortunate the Raiders selected him and other other defensive rookies.
“Going against them in practice, I’m seeing how big and strong they are,” Penn said. “They are coming off double team and because of that, that’s going to help us a team moving forward.”