Washington has been one of the hottest college football programs for the better part of a calendar year, and the Huskies officially reached new heights with their College Football Playoff semifinal win on New Year’s Day.
Washington beat Texas in the Sugar Bowl 37-31. The Longhorns had a chance to tie the Huskies on the final play of regulation, as Texas QB Quinn Ewers tossed a pass into the end-zone in the direction of receiver Adonai Mitchell, but Washington DB Elijah Jackson batted down the pass.
That granted Washington passage to the national title game where it will square off against Michigan in a battle of unbeatens.
Washington is now on a 21-game winning streak that has been fueled by the combination of coach Kalen DeBoer and star quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
Penix has been especially impressive since his transfer from Indiana to Washington. The sixth-year senior finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in his second season with the Huskies and has been one of college football’s most prolific quarterbacks since joining the team.
During the 2023 college football season, Penix completed 66.7 percent of his passes for a whopping 4,648 yards, 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He became the first college quarterback to throw for 4,500 yards in back-to-back seasons since Patrick Mahomes did so at Texas Tech in 2015 and 2016, so Penix is putting himself in elite company.
Naturally, that is leading many to wonder exactly when Penix might be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. After exhausting his college eligibility, he is expected to declare, and could end up being a coveted prospect as he continues to perform at a high level on college football’s brightest stage.
Here’s what to know about Penix’s draft stock and projection as he prepares to showcase his talents in the national championship game.
Michael Penix Jr. scouting report
Penix figures to be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft thanks largely to his arm talent.
During his time at Washington, Penix showed an ability to make explosive plays in the passing game. He is a great deep ball thrower with upper-echelon arm strength and demonstrates strong accuracy and ball placement on many of his throws. When in rhythm in the pocket, he almost always finds his receivers and hits them in stride to create big gains.
Michael Penix Jr my goodness
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 2, 2024
Penix also has underrated mobility and very good movement skills within the pocket. He used to scramble more during his time with the Hoosiers, but has focused more on operating as a passer due to a couple torn ACLs at Indiana. Still, as he showcased against Texas, he has the speed and explosiveness needed to create first downs with his legs. He also knows when to go down to avoid big hits.
Perhaps more importantly, Penix is able to move around within the pocket to create time and make plays downfield. That skill is becoming increasingly valuable in the NFL, so his penchant for doing that while keeping his eyes downfield should help him in the NFL.
Of course, Penix is not without areas to improve. In particular, he will need to work more on throwing touch passes to take his accuracy from good to elite. That will allow him to complete even more intermediate and downfield plays to his receivers in tight coverage.
Additionally, Penix will need to speed up his field-reading ability. He has largely shown an ability to find the open receiver at Washington, but he will need to do so slightly quicker to find consistent success at the NFL level. That will be especially true as he deals with pressure, something he hasn’t had to deal with often behind his excellent offensive line at Washington.
Penix also has some mechanical issues to iron out, as his footwork is inconsistent and he has a lower release point than some would prefer.
Still, Penix looks like a potential-packed prospect even with those areas for improvement in tow. His injury history may prevent him from going in the first round, but he certainly has the potential needed to develop into a quality quarterback at the next level.
Michael Penix Jr. stats
Penix posted prolific stats at Washington, but his production at Indiana was nothing at which to sneeze. Here’s a look at his passing stats from his six-year college career:
Penix has also run for 270 yards and 13 touchdowns on 131 career carries during his career. In college football, sacks are counted as negative rushing attempts, so Penix’s scrambling numbers will likely increase at the NFL level.
Michael Penix Jr. NFL draft projection
Below is a look at what some prominent NFL Draft analysts are saying about Penix and where they project him to be selected.
- Analyst: Charlie Campbell
- Projection: Round 2-3
Analysis: “For the NFL, Penix has a quality arm capable of making all the throws. He can make some nice passes along the sideline and working the back shoulder of his receivers. In the back half of the season, Penix has shown some accuracy issues, with many easy would-be completions being lost to passes off the mark. Penix needs to improve his accuracy and mechanics, plus his footwork will need development for the pros.”
- Analyst: Derrik Klassen
- Projection: Round 4
Analysis: “For teams that want to chuck it down the field with a heavy dose of play action, Penix is an interesting dice roll. His live arm, aggressiveness and moments of progression passing give him a shot to stick in the NFL. With that said, Penix’s lack of touch, shaky pocket management and minimal ability to create plays will limit his ceiling in the pros.”
- Analyst: Ian Cummings
- Projection: Potential Round 1 pick
Analysis: “Medicals will be big for Penix, but if he’s cleared during NFL Combine evaluations, he has a legitimate case to be a Round 1 pick. Even as a sixth-year senior, there are still mechanical lapses for him to iron out, but he’s a fearless pocket operator with an elastic cannon for an arm.”
Source : ESPN.com