Who’s the right NFL comp for star UW Huskies QB Michael Penix?

Oct 19, 2023, 2:17 PM

UW Huskies...

Michael Penix Jr. of the Washington Huskies against the Oregon Ducks on Oct. 14, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Michael Penix Jr. is off to a stellar start to the 2023 season, leading his UW Huskies so far to a 6-0 record that includes a big win over rival Oregon. He’s also completed 72.1% of his passes for 2,301 yards and 20 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

UW Huskies Midseason Report: Good, bad, and what lies ahead

Those numbers don’t just have the Huskies ranked No. 5 in the latest AP top 25 poll, but they also have Penix as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s best player.

This year will be Penix’s last at the college level before he goes pro, and something that always comes up with NFL prospects is which current or former players they are similar to. That came up on Tuesday when FOX Sports host Colin Cowherd joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“He’s a bigger Tua (Tagovailoa),” Cowherd said, referring to the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback. ” … Penix is a bigger, stronger Tua. Better arm, power thrower a little bit. I thought he was much more impressive (than Oregon quarterback Bo Nix).”

Tagovailoa leads the NFL in passing yards through Week and is the lone lefty starting quarterback in the NFL. Penix is also a southpaw, and that left arm of his has been golden for UW both this year and last.

So is Tagovailoa the right pro comp for the UW Huskies star? Brock Huard, a former NFL and UW quarterback who is now a FOX Sports college football analyst, does like the comparison.

“Tua is kind of a slinger, too. Tua is not over the top like I was,” said Huard, another notable lefty, during Wednesday’s Brock and Salk. “He kind of slings it. And Penix is a slinger. I mean, he is like a slingshot rubberband, man. That arm is as loosey goosey as any. And Tua’s got a loose arm, too. I think that there is some merit to that.”

All that being said, Huard thinks Penix is more similar to a different AFC quarterback.

“I’ve kind of said he’s a stronger-armed C.J. Stroud,” Huard said.

Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, has played very well for the Houston Texans so far.

“I thought he was a first-round guy last year,” Huard said of Stroud. “Do I think he’s super dynamic? No. Is he going to have to be in the right fit with people around him? Yes. And that will be important for Penix, too. He’s got to go somewhere where there’s going to be a little bit of a fit. I don’t think he (could go to any of the NFL’s) 32 teams and just absolutely run the show. I think there’s got to be a bit of the right system fit that doesn’t need all of the dynamic running and movement and things that he doesn’t do. He does what he does very, very well. And so does C.J. Stroud.

“C.J. Stroud needs to play between the tackles and get rid of the ball and play on time with anticipation. Awesome. And Penix can do all of that. So to me, he’s a stronger-armed C.J. Stroud.”

There are two big differences when it comes to Stroud and Penix besides the fact that Stroud is right-handed and Penix is a lefty.

“C.J. played three years (at Ohio State). C.J. was 21 years old (when drafted). C.J. had very little injury history other than a shoulder was banged up (before going pro),” Huard said.

That’s all hardly the case with Penix, who will be 24 come Week 1 of next NFL season. Additionally, Penix suffered not one, not two, but four significant injuries at Indiana with two ACL tears and two shoulder injuries.

Huard’s co-host Mike Salk said he thinks age and injuries are why Penix will get picked late in the first round. Huard doesn’t agree with that placement.

“I don’t think he’s gonna be a late (first-round pick). He’ll be in the top 15,” he said.

Listen to the full second hour of Wednesday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the UW Huskies

UW Huskies’ DeBoer: How much Penix has improved since 2019
Huard: Built for this – Penix could reach heights no UW QB has
• AP Midseason Football Report: See how No. 5 UW Huskies factor in
No. 8 Oregon laments 4th-down failures in loss to No. 7 UW Huskies
• Caple: Takeaways from No. 7 UW Huskies’ epic win over rival Oregon

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Who’s the right NFL comp for star UW Huskies QB Michael Penix?