Bump: Why Michael Penix will be better in NFL than USC’s Caleb Williams

Jan 9, 2024, 1:59 PM

Seattle Seahawks Michael Penix Jr. UW Huskies NFL Draft...

Michael Penix Jr. of the UW Huskies reacts prior to the 2024 CFP National Championship. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

When it comes to this year’s NFL Draft, three top Pac-12 quarterbacks are expected to go early between USC’s Caleb Williams, Oregon’s Bo Nix, and the UW Huskies’ Michael Penix Jr.

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Nix may or may not be a first-round pick, but the expectation at this stage of the draft process seems to be that Penix will be a first-rounder and that Williams will be either the first or second quarterback taken, and he’ll likely be a top-three pick.

Barring something unforeseen, there’s almost no way Penix gets picked above Williams. But former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus thinks UW’s lefty quarterback will be the better player in the NFL, as he explained on Monday. (Note: This conversation was before Washington’s national championship loss to Michigan.)

“Michael Penix is going to have a better NFL career than Caleb Williams. I honestly think that,” Bumpus said. “When you sit back, I want you guys to think about what Caleb Williams has done this year and last year. He’s a great player and I think he’s more physically talented than Michael Penix. When you think of all his plays, they’re off schedule, he’s running across the yard, I hardly see him just operate from the pocket on time consistently. And that’s what Michael Penix does.”

Things speed up dramatically in the NFL, Bumpus said, as players are bigger, faster and stronger than who they went up against in college. That’s why for quarterbacks, it’s key to be able to play within structure inside the pocket, Bump said.

“You have to be able to operate from the pocket,” he said. “Even a guy like Kyler Murray has to operate from the pocket, Russell Wilson has to operate from the pocket. You can’t just rely on getting loose. Lamar Jackson is probably having a better season to me as a quarterback than he did his MVP year (in 2019) because he’s operating from the pocket. Now having the ability to get out and do all of that (is a good trait to have), and I think Michael Penix has that, too. He just doesn’t show it … I think Michael Penix is gonna have a better NFL career than Caleb Williams. I think they’ll both be fine, but Penix is the guy.”

Listen to the full second hour of Tuesday’s Bump and Stacy at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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