Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was one of the best players in college football over the last two seasons. As he now prepares for the 2024 NFL Draft, it’s apparent that success in Washington’s offense likely won’t translate to being drafted highly.
A 2023 All-American, the 6-foot-3 quarterback dominated the Texas Longhorns in the CFP Semifinal, delivering one of the best passing performances in playoff history. Heading into the national championship game against the Michigan Wolverines, Penix Jr. started earning buzz as one of the top 2024 NFL Draft quarterback prospects.
- Michael Penix Jr stats 2023: 4,648 passing yards, 35-9 TD-INT, 85.7 ESPN QBR, 66.7% completion
However, Penix Jr. will already be 24 when he reports to rookie minicamp this summer. He also struggled in the national championship game, throwing 2 interceptions with a 52.9 percent completion rate against Michigan’s defense. Now, that combined with other concerns have significantly impacted his draft outlook.
Where is Michael Penix Jr. projected to be drafted?
During an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman said that Penix Jr. is the most polarizing quarterback prospect for NFL teams. Months out from the 2024 NFL Draft, some talent evaluators view him as a potential first-round pick while others believe he may go undrafted.
“The concern for some people is going to come back to the medical piece. Because he had four season-ending injuries, so that’s ultimately going to be what the doctors tell them. Then there’s parts of this where people say, we’ve got a third-round grade on him based on some of what they look.Bruce Feldman on Michael Penix Jr.
Feldman went on to detail a conversation with an NFL talent evaluator who said the Longhorns played more of a “vanilla” defense in their loss to Penix Jr. whereas Michigan used more NFL-style concepts. Wolverines’ defensive coordinator Jesse Minter spent several years on the Baltimore Ravens coaching staff and is highly coveted by NFL teams seeking a defensive coordinator.
Penix Jr. has a lengthy injury history. With the Indiana Hoosiers, he suffered a torn ACL as a true freshman in 2018 then experienced another ACL tear in November 2020. He also missed time in 2021 after suffering an AC joint separation in his throwing shoulder.
Feldman did go on to make a strong case for Penix Jr., highlighting the adversity he’s overcome both in his life and in college to become successful. Character, resiliency and leadership still matter at the quarterback position, which are boxes that Penix Jr. checks.
Penix Jr. now seems highly unlikely to be selected in Round 1, but the former Huskies’ quarterback will still likely be taken on Day 2 with an opportunity to prove himself in a good situation with less pressure on him in his rookie season.