Huard: How title game loss impacts Michael Penix’s draft stock

Jan 9, 2024, 8:33 AM | Updated: 8:58 am

UW Huskies Michael Penix Jr NFL Draft Stock...

Michael Penix Jr. of the Washington Huskies is sacked on Jan. 8, 2024. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies’ magical 2023 season ended without a championship on Monday with a title game loss to Michigan, and now the Dawgs will begin life after Michael Penix Jr.

Caple: Takeaways from Huskies’ CFP title game loss to Michigan

Penix, Washington’s star quarterback these last two seasons, will now go pro after finishing second in Heisman voting this season.

Penix and the offense had a night to forget against Michigan, scoring just 13 points with Penix completing 27 of 51 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown to two interceptions.

For the most part, Penix was stellar these past two seasons in Seattle. He chose to return to school this year in order to improve his draft stock, and it appears he’s done just that.

But how did his performance against Michigan impact his draft stock? Former NFL and UW quarterback Brock Huard shared his thoughts during Tuesday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

“Yeah, I think it takes a bit of a hit. I don’t know if you’re going to hear top-three, top five,” Huard said. “I think some of that narrative will probably dissipate. And it’s going to do so partly because of last night.”

When it comes to this year’s draft class, analysts are nearly unanimous in that USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye are the best quarterbacks in this draft. Penix is among four top guys fighting for that No. 3 spot. But there are some good players at other important positions that could also play a part in Penix not being selected super early in the first round, Huard said.

“There are some amazingly talented tackles and receivers, like elite-elite dudes. Like hey man, this guy can be a just perennial Pro Bowler, he’s different than some of the other guys,” he said.

“I think (Monday’s loss) will play a role in why I don’t know if I was just gonna co-sign right away and say (he should be picked) top-three or top-five,” Huard added. “And it will also give voice to those critics out there.”

Many of the questions with Penix’s draft stock have to do with his injury history as he suffered four season-ending injuries at Indiana before transferring to Washington. Penix got banged up on Monday, with center Parker Brailsford stepping on his ankle on a passing attempt that was intercepted and also getting knocked around late in the game when the Huskies were in clear passing situations.

“I did text you guys once I had enough charge last night, because being at the stadium, I don’t know if they showed it on television, Penix put a towel over his head and went into the injury tent,” Huard, who attended the championship game, said. “And I texted you and said he better come out of that tent. He’s got to finish this game. Now if he’s got a spleen or a broken rib or a punctured lung, like obviously don’t go out there and put yourself in that kind of harm. But just from an optics standpoint, just how narratives get built, just from a perception, go finish this game. It’s been brutal. It’s been hard. They keep hitting you and hitting you and hitting you, but you know what you’ve got to do? You’ve got to get off the mat/ And boy, am I glad that he did and he was able to finish that game.”

That was one of the more physical games Penix has been a part of at Washington as the Husky offensive line did a great job keeping him clean these past two years. Huard said Penix won’t take “17 beatings like that” when he enters the league next year, but “it’s a different league.”

“You’re not playing Cal and ASU and, no offense, WSU and some of those schools. (What you faced against Micghigan), that’s what you face at the NFL level,” Huard said. “That’s the pocket that gets collapsed, those are the hits from grown men, those are the kinds of kind of contact you do have to endure. And that will be the overriding nitpicking question of the next two and a half months.”

More on Penix and the UW Huskies

• Analysis: Missed opportunities sink UW Huskies’ offense vs Michigan
• Instant Reaction: UW Huskies come up short of national title
• Recap: Michigan overpowers UW 34-13 as Harbaugh delivers title
• Hold call looms large as UW Huskies lose to Michigan in CFP title game

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Huard: How title game loss impacts Michael Penix’s draft stock