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NFL Insider: Las Vegas Raiders smart to snag Michael Penix Jr. with the 13th Pick

Michael Penix, Jr. Las Vegas Raiders Brian Baldinger
Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas have a few positions of need heading into next week’s NFL Draft, including at quarterback. Reports last weekend said general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Antonio Pierce might have a different take on what they should do in the first round with the 13th overall pick in the first round.

But on Tuesday, one NFL insider said he wouldn’t have any objection if they nabbed quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. with that pick. 

Speaking on Tuesday’s Silver and Black Today Raiders podcast,  NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger highly praised Michael Penix. He made a compelling case for Penix, suggesting that the Raiders would be well-placed to select him with the 13th overall pick. This endorsement from a seasoned NFL insider shows the various opinions on Penix and where he might be drafted.

“Michael Penix, he’s my second favorite quarterback in this draft after Caleb (Williams),” Baldinger said. I don’t know what games somebody watches where they don’t think this guy can be a great player in the Raider tradition. He’s the best deep-ball thrower in this draft. Now, if Mr. Davis is listening to this podcast or he wants to see the Raiders win the AFC West next year, I mean they win it by being a deep-ball-throwing football team.”

When asked if he would oppose the Raiders taking Penix as early as 13, Baldinger was emphatic.

“I wouldn’t,” Baldinger said on the podcast. “But, I mean, you can talk about the Michigan game. He did cut the score right before halftime to 17-10 with an unbelievable throw on his third option, you know, inside the 10-yard line. You have to factor that throw in there.”

Read more: “Whispers” getting louder that Las Vegas Raiders will select QB in 1st round of NFL Draft

Las Vegas Raiders could have franchise QB in Michael Penix Jr.

Las Vegas Raiders Brian Baldinger Michael Penix
Credit: Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

When we last talked to Baldinger toward the end of the 2023 season, he emphatically told us the Raiders had to address the quarterback position as soon as possible. While it’s well-known the Raiders need help on the right side of the offensive line and at cornerback, just to name a few, he still made the point that the focus has to be on finding the right quarterback.

“Here are the names of the quarterbacks who won the last nine Super Bowls in order,” Baldinger said.” Brady, Manning, Brady, Foles, Brady, Mahomes, Stafford, Mahomes, Mahomes. Only a couple of guys win Super Bowls, and if it’s about winning Super Bowls, I would be surprised if Aidan O’Connell or Gardiner Minshew joins that list.”

Baldinger, known for his deep understanding and analytical skills, cited Michael Penix’s performance against top-notch opponents as a critical indicator of his NFL readiness. He says Penix has repeatedly shown he can perform under pressure and has elevated the players around him—all key indicators of a quarterback who could be successful at the NFL level. This included Penix’s stellar performance against Texas last season. In that game, the first of the College Football Playoff, Penix threw for 430 yards and two touchdowns to advance to the National Championship game. 

Baldinger says Penix’s performance showcased his ability to perform under pressure and his precision in critical game situations.

“I don’t know how many teams would have beaten Texas,” Baldinger said. Like, Texas is a juggernaut. You just look at what they have. Look at the draft that’s coming out of Texas. I mean, they knocked Texas out of the tournament. I don’t think anybody thought Texas was going to lose. But Michael Penix played one of the best games any quarterback played all year in that game to get there. So you have to factor that in.”

Read more: NFL reporter reveals ‘wide open’ Michael Penix draft projection ahead of 2024 NFL Draft

Michael Penix, Jr.: Gifted athlete with health issues behind him

Michael Penix Las Vegas Raiders
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Baldinger also highlighted Penix’s athleticism, a critical attribute for modern NFL quarterbacks, which adds another layer to his potential. Baldinger said that his ability to run when he has to and his size make him unique.  

“But when you run a 4.46 40 (yard dash), it’s a 4.46 at 218 pounds,” Baldinger pointed out. “Like, how many quarterbacks can do that?  Maybe Lamar (Jackson), like, maybe there are a couple of guys that play that position and can run that fast, but he (Penix) can.”

Despite potential concerns about Penix’s past injuries, Baldinger says it does not consider that his recent health has been solid, indicating resilience and a possibly brighter future in the NFL. He pointed out that Penix has now played 27 straight games without an injury. “He took all the physicals, he took at the combine, all that stuff, like, he passed with like, nothing is lingering from any former injury.”

Baldinger concluded with a nod to Penix’s mental toughness and football IQ as another positive. “This is a sharp kid. Like, he’s really sharp,” Baldinger emphasized.

Related: Full 7-round Las Vegas Raiders mock draft

It’s unknown if the Las Vegas Raiders feel the same way about Penix or if they’ll go offensive line or cornerback in the first round. Baldinger’s analysis provides a comprehensive picture, balancing Penix’s physical attributes, mental sharpness, and proven track record against top-tier college competition as reasons why he wouldn’t be a reach at 13th overall. If the Raiders heed Baldinger’s advice, they could secure a cornerstone for their franchise’s future.

As the draft approaches, all eyes will be on the decision-makers to see if they also see the high potential in Penix that Baldinger believes so strongly.

Sportsnaut’s Scott Gulbransen also hosts Silver and Black Today, an Audacy Sports original podcast about the Las Vegas Raiders.

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