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Draft analyst explains why he has 2nd-round grade on Michael Penix

Apr 4, 2024, 10:21 AM | Updated: 10:41 am

Michael Penix Jr. NFL Draft prospect...

UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. celebrates a touchdown against Oregon on Oct. 14, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Michael Penix Jr. won’t be the first UW Huskies star taken in this year’s NFL Draft, but he’ll probably be the most-watched player from his team in a few weeks.

ESPN’s Yates: How early Michael Penix may go in the NFL Draft

The lefty quarterback who led the nation in passing each of the last two seasons at Washington is one of the top five to six quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft. Some analysts believe Penix will be taken in the first round, but others do not.

ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller recently revealed that he has first-round grades on 18 players in this year’s draft. Notably, Penix wasn’t one of them.

“I have a second-round grade (on Penix). I have him as my No. 36 overall player,” Miller told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday. “I’m not one of those people that artificially puts quarterbacks just at the top.”

Miller dove further into his evaluation of Penix with Brock and Salk, and was asked by former NFL and UW quarterback Brock Huard how much Penix’s injury history played into Miller’s grade. Penix notably tore his ACL twice and had two season-ending shoulder injuries at Indiana before transferring to Washington in 2022. Penix is also an older prospect as he turns 24 years old in May.

“No injury history and he’s 22? He would be in the top 30 or 25,” Miller said. “I want to be fair to the process. It’s hard to say, right? Because that is such a big part of it. But I think top 25. I do have some concerns with his game outside of that just like I do with every player, right? We could run through every quarterback in this draft and say, ‘Here are your positives, here are your question marks.’ But take away the injuries and take away the age and I would say top 25.”

What about concerns on the field?

“I think there are times where he’s forcing guys to chase balls a little bit. And I think that showed up more when he was asked to move,” Miller said. “… When the pocket’s clean, no one is prettier. I don’t want to evaluate off of two games, but I think you can even look at his last two games and see that. You look against Texas where that Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line didn’t let anybody through, my man was surgical. That’s one of the best games I’ve ever seen a quarterback play. You watch against Michigan where they were able to create some pressure and make him move, and his accuracy did fall off. Even on Crossing routes, he has guys chasing balls a little bit. He’s just not as accurate when asked to move.”

Penix’s last game in college was Jan. 8. Roughly two months later, Penix was one of many prospects attending the NFL combine. Between his last game and the combine, Penix “cleaned up some of those issues,” Miller said. Penix also tested well at his pro day last week.

“(I think) 40-yard (dash) times for quarterbacks are pointless, but the 40-yard time was good for him, it was, because it showed his mobility. Now if he can tie those things together – the improved mechanics and that mobility – that’s where I think we could see him become the guy he was against Texas because he’s going to be more comfortable throwing on the move,” Miller said. “And I don’t just mean as a runner, just moving. When he had to move his feet, I think that’s when he does fall apart a little bit.”

More on Michael Penix Jr. and the NFL Draft

• Seahawks Mock Draft Roundup: Could Penix be reunited with Grubb?
• Do Seahawks like Michael Penix? GM weighs in after his pro day
• Rich Eisen thinks Michael Penix will be drafted earlier than expected

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