Bruce Feldman ‘a believer’ in Michael Penix Jr. as NFL quarterback

Mar 7, 2024, 8:10 AM | Updated: 10:27 am

UW Huskies Michael Penix Jr. NFL Draft...

UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. passes against Utah on Nov. 11, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Many of the top players in this year’s NFL Draft class did not partake in workouts at the NFL combine. That was especially true at quarterback. But one of the nation’s top passers in 2023 who did throw, the UW Huskies’ Michael Penix Jr., certainly turned some heads.

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Penix led the Huskies to a 25-3 record the last two seasons and he finished second in Heisman voting last year, but he is a bit of a polarizing prospect. First, he has an extensive injury history dating back to his four years at Indiana, and second, he had an elite offensive line and receiving corps at Washington. Regardless, he has a very strong and accurate arm that was on full display in Indianapolis last week.

That Penix dazzled in front of top NFL execs didn’t shock Bruce Feldman, a top college football insider for FOX Sports and The Athletic.

“He was the guy that I voted to win the Heisman. That was my No. 1 guy on my ballot,” Feldman told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Monday. “After what we saw him do the last few years, I’m not surprised that he shined and he threw it as well as he did. He clearly threw it better than anybody who was working out there in Indy over the weekend.”

Penix did plenty at the combine, though he didn’t run the 40-yard dash. That surprised Feldman because he heard from people who Penix has been working out with, including fellow quarterback prospect Kedon Slovis of BYU, that Penix was going to “really dazzle people when he runs” and there was some thought he could run in the 4.4-second range. That could still come to fruition at Penix’s pro day.

“Kedon really raved about how fast and athletic Penix was, and Kedon ran 4.55 at the combine. It wouldn’t surprise me if when (Penix) runs a 40, he will run sub-4.50,” Feldman said. “It’s not like he’s going to be Lamar Jackson and run all over the field in an NFL game, but considering how well he throws it, considering the kind of throws he made and what he has on film for the last couple of years … This particular kid has been through a lot of personal adversity coming out of the injuries, especially out of Indiana, and was very candid about it and came through the other side and has shined in the face of the adversity. I think that bodes really well for him as an NFL quarterback.

“I’m fascinated to see what kind of situation he goes in. But I’m a believer in Penix and I’m not at all surprised that he looked as good as he did throwing the ball around.”

This draft class is loaded with top-end quarterbacks and three are expected to be selected in the first three to five selections. After that, Michael Penix Jr. is in a group with Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy and Oregon’s Bo Nix who could also be first-round selections.

Where will Michael Penix Jr. be drafted?

Could Penix be the fourth quarterback selected in the 2024 NFL Draft?

“I think it’s one of those ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ situations,” Feldman said. ” … If you told me Penix (will be the fourth quarterback drafted) or he’s in the running with J.J. McCarthy for that fourth spot, I wouldn’t be surprised. It just comes down to what people like.”

Penix’s injury history is a big part of his evaluation process, but Feldman heard that Penix got a “clean evaluation” from doctors.

“It was just people maybe in their own biases saying, ‘OK, this guy’s had some significant injuries in the past. Are we worried that he’s gonna get another one?'” he said. “But if you base it off of what we saw on the film and how he performed against other top quarterbacks and top teams, it’s hard to argue against him just given what he’s done.”

Penix, who Feldman said has an “electric arm,” had maybe his best game at for the Huskies against Texas in a College Football Playoff semifinal Sugar Bowl win. That game resonated with NFL scouts, Feldman said.

“Watch what he did against Texas. I mean, there were NFL personnel people I talked to who were in awe of what he did in that game,” he said. “I’m fascinated to see how his NFL career goes from here.”

Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with college football insider Bruce Feldman in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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