Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. has all the talent of a future top-50 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but he still has a lot to prove. While Penix Jr. is not considered to be the same caliber of prospect as USC’s Caleb Williams or North Carolina’s Drake Maye, he could potentially solidify his status as the third-best quarterback in this class with another solid season. Right now, he is battling it out against other highly talented quarterbacks like Quinn Ewers, Joe Milton III, J.J McCarthy, and Riley Leonard for that title.
Standing at 6’3″ and weighing 218 lbs, Penix Jr. has good size for the position. He possesses a strong arm that allows him to make all the necessary throws. He had an impressive season last year, boasting a completion of 65.3% and throwing for 4,641 yards with 31 touchdowns, according to Sports Reference.
One of Penix Jr.’s notable strengths is his quick release. He has arguably the fastest release in all of college football. His ability to get the ball out of his hand quickly provides him the ability to make split-second decisions and avoid sacks. This quick release is a valuable asset in high-pressure situations, allowing him to deliver accurate throws even when facing defensive pressure.
While not necessarily a runner, Penix Jr. has some speed and can take off when needed. He is projected to run somewhere in the 4.6’s in the 40-yard dash, which is very good for his size. He has untapped potential in this area if a team at the next level decides to install some read-option packages for him.
Penix Jr.’s injury history is a major concern. He has endured a series of unfortunate injuries. In 2018 and 2020, he suffered torn ACLs that sidelined him for significant periods. In 2019, he encountered a sternoclavicular joint injury. Then in 2021, an AC joint injury in his shoulder further added to his injury woes. He must focus on protecting himself better and avoiding unnecessary hits to prolong his career.
One area of concern for Penix Jr. is that he doesn’t play in a pro-style system. Transitioning from a college spread offense to a pro-style offense can be challenging for quarterbacks entering the NFL. While Penix Jr.’s talent is undeniable, scouts may want to see how well he adapts to a more traditional system at the next level.
Lastly, some NFL teams do not like their quarterback to be left-handed. NFL offenses are typically designed with right-handed QBs in mind. The playbook and offensive line protection schemes are tailored to accommodate right-handed QBs’ movements and throwing mechanics, such as rollouts and bootlegs to the right side. Implementing a left-handed quarterback can require many adjustments to the playbook and protection schemes, which is a turn-off for some teams.
Michael Penix Jr.’s talent and statistical achievements make him a standout quarterback with the potential to become a future star in college football. His arm strength and lightning-fast release are a deadly combination for defenses to deal with.
However, to solidify his status as the third-best quarterback in a loaded class, Penix Jr. must have another great season for the Huskies. Adapting to a pro-style system and staying healthy is critical for him to have success at the next level. As the upcoming season approaches, all eyes will be on Michael Penix Jr. as he aims to quiet any doubters.