Michael Penix Draft Profile
University of Washington Quarterback, Michael Penix, is one of the most highly touted quarterbacks in the 2024 draft class and will be a major player of debate throughout this year’s process. With the quarterback position, the physical tools are just one part of the evaluation. If a team is drafting a quarterback with a high pick, it is because they view him capable of being the face of the franchise. “Face of the franchise” gets thrown around a lot so the phrase gets overlooked, but in reality it means you are a major factor in the direction and perception of a multi-billion dollar organization. The position could potentially impact the lives of not just the players and coaches, but the team’s entire staff, the city’s economy, and wellbeing of its fan-base. In the grand-scope of the position, it’s one of the most salient jobs in America which is why it is so polarizing and discussed at arduous lengths.
There will not be many questions in regards to Penix’s character; his resilience, self-belief, and confidence is palpable. Whether he is free-styling on the sideline between drives or winning games at the last second, Penix is a winner and has the charisma that owners and general managers are looking for from their franchise quarterback. In a similar fashion to Jalen Hurts or Geno Smith, there is a calming confidence that isn’t necessarily loud or boisterous, but is heard and felt by everyone in the building. An Indiana transfer, Penix has overcome two ACL tears and injuries to both of his shoulders. In his sixth collegiate season of playing quarterback, Penix is playing at his highest level and has won 20 straight games (including a PAC-12 championship). The biggest concerns will be regarding his medical tests and teams being willing to put the weight of being a franchise quarterback on someone who is prone to injury. Penix’s draft circuit will be highly discussed and debated, but the mental disposition of the Tampa native should face no doubt.
From a physical standpoint, the areas that stood out most to me were his feet and quickness. His ability to operate within the pocket, make defenders miss in a short space, reset his base, and deliver the ball with intention is really impressive. He has a good arm that is capable of making any throw on the field when he plays with a good base. With that being said, I don’t think his arm is capable of making certain throws on the move and outside of the play structure. Mechanically speaking, he has an unconventional motion that I believe can cause inconsistencies with the deep ball. He reminds me of a left-handed Philip Rivers— it is super quick, but the delivery itself has some inconsistencies. He does a great job at generating velocity from the ground-up, but lacks elite shoulder turn which I believe could be the cause for errant throws without his base. As a runner, he isn’t going to rip off a ton of long runs, but has shown a willingness to put his body on the line and pickup crucial third down conversions. He is athletic within the pocket and has the toughness to lower his shoulder when on the run.
When Penix is playing in the pocket, on rhythm, and his eyes match his feet— it is easy to see why he is a Heisman finalist. He does a tremendous job at distributing the ball, throwing his guys open, and throwing to spots on the field. He has shown the ability to manipulate defenders with his eyes and create one-on-one opportunities for his receivers. His ability to process after the snap, read defenses, and go through progressions is what he does best. My concern is in regard to what happens when the play breaks down and he needs to make an off-schedule throw. He makes questionable decisions when hurried— ones that nearly changed the outcome of the game against Oregon, Washington State, and Arizona State.
Being able to sit behind a veteran quarterback who has played in high pressure moments, would be super beneficial for Penix in his rookie season. He has the mental make-up to be a high level quarterback in the NFL, but learning situational football and how to create outside of structure is pivotal for his development. He has the tools, there just needs to be refinement. His strengths as a player remind me a lot of Derek Carr’s when it comes to using his eyes, having very good feet, good arm strength, and being a natural leader. But like Carr, I believe he totes the line between risk-taker and irrational when under pressure. Physically, I believe he’s quicker and has a faster motion than Carr, but I think Carr is better without his base and his mechanics are more consistent. Fit-wise, I would love to see him going to a west-coast offense that requires conventional post-snap reads.
Penix is a hard player for me to project because of the medical situation. If I am taking that out of the picture, I believe he is a day two guy that would benefit from sitting behind someone like Matthew Stafford, Geno Smith, or Aaron Rodgers. Realistically, I think he will go much higher than I graded him out to go. I could see him being one of those late first-round quarterbacks that a playoff team takes to redshirt or one that a team trades up into the first round of the draft for.
Natural Arm Talent: 8/12 (good)
Accuracy: 5.56/10 (Above Average)
Natural Leadership: 7.78/10 (Very Good)
Decision Making + Eyes + Anticipation: 7.78/10 (Very Good)
Pocket Presence: 6.22/8 (Very Good)
Athleticism + Mobility: 4.44/8 (above average)
Deep Ball: 3.33/6 (above average)
Feet + Base: 4.67/6 (very good)
Throwing Motion: 2.67/6 (average)
Toughness + Fearlessness: 3.33/6 (above average)
Final Rating: Above Average NFL Quarterback
Pro Comparison: Quicker Derek Carr
Draft Projection: Top 20 Pick
Draft Grade: Day 2 Quarterback
Scheme Fits: West-Coast Offense