Michael Penix NFL Draft scouting report: How Washington QB compares to Tua Tagovailoa, Hendon Hooker

As many as six quarterbacks could be selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and Michael Penix Jr. is among them.

Penix enjoyed a productive six-year college career, spending his first four seasons at Indiana before breaking out at Washington.

Penix led the Huskies to the College Football Playoff during his final college season. Washington couldn’t beat Michigan in the national championship game, but Penix had one of the best games of his life in the semifinal against Texas, showing exactly the type of playmaker he could be if it all comes together at the NFL level.

What will the team that selects Penix be getting? He has earned rave reviews for his work ethic and leadership during the 2024 NFL Draft process. He has all the tools needed to succeed, but he must develop some of his notable weaknesses to establish himself as an NFL starter.

Here’s a look at Penix’s draft profile and potential high-end and low-end NFL comparisons for the 24-year-old quarterback.

MORE NFL DRAFT: Big board top 200 | 7-round mock draft | Mock with trades

Michael Penix Jr. scouting report

Peni figures to be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft thanks to his high-level arm talent.

Penix showed a knack for making explosive passing plays during his time at Washington. He is arguably the best deep-ball thrower in this year’s draft class thanks to his upper-echelon arm strength. He throws downfield with a near-perfect spiral and often has strong accuracy and ball placement on his downfield throws.

When in rhythm in the pocket, Penix almost always found his receivers open and hit them in stride for big gains. He also has underrated mobility and shows great movement skills within a clean pocket. He used to scramble more during his time at Indiana, but there was a greater emphasis put on operating as a pocket passer at Washington after he suffered two torn ACLs with the Hoosiers.

Still, Penix has the speed and explosiveness needed to create first downs with his legs. He didn’t scramble often, but he blazed a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at his pro day to showcase his athletic upside and prove that his strong scrambling performance against Texas wasn’t a fluke.

Penix is not without areas to improve at the NFL level, though. Notably, he needs to get better at reading the field under pressure, something he wasn’t asked to do a lot behind Washington’s top-tier offensive line. He also needs to throw with a bit more touch at times to take his accuracy from good to elite. That will allow him to complete even more intermediate and downfield passes to his receivers in tight coverage.

NFL teams might also be reluctant to pick Penix because of his injury history. He suffered season-ending maladies in each of his four seasons at Indiana. That — plus his age (24) — may drop him from the top tier of the 2024 NFL Draft quarterback prospects to the second.

Still, Penix looks like a potential-packed prospect even with those areas for improvement in tow. He should see his name called at some point Thursday night or early Friday, and he could be a top-15 pick when it’s all said at done.

2024 NFL DRAFT TOP 10 LISTS: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | EDGE

Michael Penix Jr. stats

Penix played four seasons at Indiana before transferring to Washington for his final two years. He was a starter in five of his six seasons, though he never played more than seven games in a season for the Hoosiers because of his injury issues.

Penix broke out upon reuniting with Kalen DeBoer at Washington. He stayed healthy in his two seasons with the Huskies and emerged as a Heisman Trophy contender as a senior. That honor ultimately went to Jayden Daniels. Still, Penix earned plenty of acclaim guiding the Huskies to the College Football Playoff and, ultimately, the national championship game before losing to a juggernaut Michigan squad.

Penix nearly surpassed 5,000 passing yards in 2023 and finished his career with 13,741 yards. He endured some lean years — like his four-TD, seven-INT season for the Hoosiers in 2021 — but he bounced back nicely under DeBoer’s watch.

Below is a look at Penix’s passing stats from his six seasons with the Hoosiers and Huskies:

Year Games Comp Att Comp. % Yds TDs INTs Y/a Rating
2018 3 21 34 61.8 219 1 0 6.4 125.6
2019 7 110 160 68.8 1,394 10 4 8.7 157.6
2020 6 124 220 56.4 1,645 14 4 7.5 136.5
2021 5 87 162 53.7 939 4 7 5.8 101.9
2022 13 362 554 65.3 4,641 31 8 8.4 151.3
2023 15 363 555 65.4 4,903 36 11 8.8 163.5
Totals 49 1,067 1,685 63.3 13,741 96 34 8.2 146.6

Penix also ran for 270 yards and 13 touchdowns on 131 career carries during his career. In college football, sacks are counted as negative rushing attempts, so Penix’s scrambling numbers will likely increase at the NFL level, provided that he can stay healthy.

NFL DRAFT RUMORS: Drake Maye | Jayden Daniels | J.J. McCarthy

Michael Penix NFL comparisons

Tua Tagovailoa

Getty Images

Best-case scenario: Tua Tagovailoa

Penix is drawing a lot of comparisons to Tagovailoa because both are lefthanded quarterbacks. There hasn’t been an abundance of those at the NFL level, so it’s natural to want to compare Penix to Tagovailoa.

The comparison between the two is far from perfect. They have different strengths, as Tagovailoa was more of a rhythm passer who hit his receivers over the middle of the field while Penix thrived more as a deep-ball passer outside the numbers. As one would expect, Penix also has a stronger arm than Tagovailoa.

But at a macro level, their scenarios are very similar. Each played within a college offense that sported numerous high-quality receiving weapons and a strong offensive line. Both also dealt with major injury concerns that placed a shroud of uncertainty over their NFL futures.

Tagovailoa has become a solid NFL starter for the Dolphins, as the team invested in players like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Terron Armstead to support and protect their top quarterback. Penix could thrive in a similar situation, as an AFC executive told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

“There’s a lot to like — he’s like a good point guard with a plus arm,” the executive said of Penix. “I wouldn’t classify him as the type of player who will carry a team, but if he’s got a good supporting cast, he can deliver the ball consistently. People get hung up on the left-handed thing but that doesn’t matter.”

That exact quote could be used to describe Tagovailoa and nobody would bat an eye. While Penix will need to iron out his middle-of-the-field consistency to become a Tua-like threat at the NFL level, he at least appears to have a similarly bright future as a starter.

Hendon Hooker

(Getty Images)

Worst-case scenario: Hendon Hooker

Look, calling Hooker a worst-case scenario for Penix is a bit harsh considering that Hooker was only just selected in the 2023 NFL Draft and spent most of his rookie season recovering from a torn ACL. Hooker could eventually become a solid starter, after all.

That said, this comparison is more about the potential slide Penix could endure if his medical exams aren’t viewed favorably by enough teams.

Hooker got some buzz as a potential first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after a big final season at Tennessee. He was 25 at the time of the draft and coming off a major knee injury, but the logic was that his combination of accuracy and mobility would intrigue teams looking for a developmental successor in the draft.

Of course, Hooker slipped to the third round before the Lions selected him with the 68th overall pick. That was a great landing spot for Hooker, as he became Detroit’s top developmental quarterback behind Jared Goff.

If something similar happens with Penix, it will be hard for him to live up to his potential early in his career. His arm strength and mobility should prevent him from falling far on the second day of the 2024 NFL Draft, but he might start his NFL career as a backup depending on which team drafts him.

That may not be the worst thing for Penix’s development, but it would be a far cry from emerging as a solid starter early enough to become the next Tua.

MORE: Where Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr. land in QB-only mock draft

Michael Penix mock draft

Mock draft projection: No. 47 overall

Sporting News’ seven-round mock draft the Giants selecting Penix with the 47th overall selection. New York is searching for a potential replacement for Daniel Jones, and if they don’t use a first-round pick on J.J. McCarthy or another quarterback, getting Penix at this point would be a steal.

Penix could challenge Jones for the starting job and eventually take over for the 2019 first-round pick. The only question is whether Penix would hold up well behind a shaky Giants offensive line that has caused Jones problems throughout his career.

This also represents Penix’s floor, in all likelihood. He could go as high as the early teens, but he is a candidate to endure a Will Levis-like drop if teams are scared off by his injury history.

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *