Why a CFB expert would draft Michael Penix as high as No. 2

Apr 11, 2024, 12:33 PM

Michael Penix NFL Draft...

Michael Penix Jr. of the Washington Huskies passes on Nov. 11, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

College football insider Bruce Feldman is a big fan of UW Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr., and he’s made it clear that he’s a believer of his potential in the NFL ahead of the upcoming draft.

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Feldman, who works for The Athletic and FOX Sports, reiterated how high he is on Penix during his Thursday conversation with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. Feldman said that if he were in charge of an NFL team, he’d have a hard time passing on Penix.

“If I had the first pick of the draft, it’d be hard not to roll the dice on (USC quarterback Caleb Williams),” Feldman said. “But there’s definitely stuff that would give you pause about him, though and that would make me a little skeptical.

“If I had the second pick of the draft and I needed a quarterback and Caleb is not there, I’d have a hard time saying no to Michael Penix because he made so many big-time throws … I know he has got an electric arm and he is not afraid.”

Penix will almost certainly not go No. 2 overall. He’s seen by many as the fifth- or sixth-best quarterback in this year’s class, and some think Penix will not be a first-round pick at all.

But Penix has the makeup to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, Feldman said.

“For a lot of guys, especially elite guys coming out of high school … what happens when you get adversity? What really happens to you?” Feldman said. “And what amazed me about Penix when I went up to Seattle last year around this time and ended up having a long conversation with him, it went in a direction I did not expect it to go. He was very candid, more so than almost any other athlete I can remember in college in a while.”

During that conversation, which you can read here, Penix dove into his state of mind while at Indiana, where he had four season-ending injuries. Penix at one point questioned if he should still play football, saying he was scared, but ultimately transferred to Washington and became a star for the Huskies.

What Penix shared with Feldman was about “not where he is, but where he was and how he came through it,” Feldman said.

“I think that takes an incredible amount of resolve and mental strength to push through it. And then not only to push through, but not to bury it,” Feldman said. “And he was so candid about it.”

Feldman also thinks Penix is being nitpicked quite a bit in the pre-draft process because of how he played in the Huskies’ national championship loss to Michigan in January.

“I get it, he didn’t have a great game against Michigan,” he said. “But if somehow Texas ends up beating them on the last play in the red zone or whatever (in the College Football Playoff semifinal Sugar Bowl) and his college career ends on that, what are you going to nitpick then? What are you going to nitpick? Because he was amazing in that game. It was arguably the best performance any quarterback played in college football that year (and it was) in a big game.”

Feldman also doesn’t think teams are being as critical of Penix as media members.

“From the coaches I’ve talked to who faced him, (North Carolina’s) Drake Maye was actually the most polarizing of the quarterbacks,” he said. “I think Penix is the most polarizing if you ask ‘Draft Twitter’ that. But if you ask the coaches who faced him, people are kind of wowed by Penix’s arm talent. It wasn’t a dink and dunk offense. We’ve talked about this a lot: He has battled through real adversity and come through the other side. He took a team that was 4-8 and was largely the same roster and they went 25-3. I’m a believer in Penix.”

On the field, Penix has the ability to make throws that some other quarterback prospects can’t. Feldman noted that “windows” are much smaller for passers in the NFL than in college, and receivers are rarely wide open.

“If you can’t really fit the ball in there and don’t either have great anticipation or see it or really pinpoint accuracy to go with that arm talent, I think you can be really disappointing,” Feldman said. “And we know Penix can do that. There’s a lot I would be sold on with Penix if I needed a quarterback bad.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full conversation with Bruce Feldman at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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