Raiders QB target still has questions to answer after Pro Day

Michael Penix Jr. should be a first-round pick, but not every NFL talent evaluator agrees on that.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington Huskies
Michael Penix Jr., Washington Huskies / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

If the Las Vegas Raiders wanted to use the No. 13 overall pick on former Washington Huskies star Michael Penix Jr., I wouldn't blame them. He was an incredible player in college for two schools of note in U-Dub and Indiana. Although he was in college for six years, I know what I saw out of him, and it was magical. He may be left-handed, injury-prone and older, but Penix is a bona fide leader of men.

However, Penix was always going to be either QB5 or QB6 in this draft process, no matter how you feel about Oregon's Bo Nix. I attest that Nix and Penix should be first-round picks like Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy are, all of whom are top-12 locks. Penix throws the best deep ball and probably did more than any of these quarterbacks did to help them win games.

Unfortunately, not everyone is sold on Penix.

Here is what ESPN's Jordan Reid gathered from scouts.

"Outside of durability, scouts wanted to see how well Penix played when defenses knocked him off his initial launch point in the pocket. We saw those issues bubble up in the title game. He can easily scan the field and make throws from a clean pocket, but there are still questions about how he handles pressure. In 15 games, Penix was hit on 21.5 percent of his dropbacks (11th-least in the nation) and sacked 11 times. But when he gets outside the pocket, he completed 38.5 percent of his throws, 114th in the country."

While most quarterbacks struggle throwing inside a muddy pocket, Penix's inconsistent Senior Bowl downgraded him in the eyes of some talent evaluators. I get it, but that was one exhibition game, y'all.

"Penix had a prime opportunity to impress scouts at the Senior Bowl, but it ended up being a week of highs and lows—he didn't do much to change prior opinions. Yes, the arm strength immediately stood out, but his accuracy was up and down. His pro day had an emphasis on throws on the move, as Penix continues to try to show more consistency there."

All I know is that whoever ends up drafting Penix will be rewarded in so many ways for doing so.

Not all NFL talent evaluators are on-board with Michael Penix Jr.

Look. I interviewed Penix shortly before the end of the year. This was before the Huskies took on Texas in the Sugar Bowl, before they took on Michigan in the national championship, and well before Kalen DeBoer left Seattle for Tuscaloosa. I came away very impressed with the quarterback. He was all business, but I certainly enjoyed our conversation. To me, Penix oozes fantastic leadership traits.

While I would say that he does offer some bust potential, for reasons I have stated above (age, left-handedness, injury-prone nature), the upside of taking him in the first round is far too great to pass up. In a league where more and more teams pivot off their first-round picks, it is not as punitive as in year's past to whiff on one. Plus, if you do hit on a guy, you have the luxury of that fifth-year option.

Overall, Penix may be more of a gamer than scouts may want to admit. A lot of quarterbacks struggled at times against the likes of Oregon, Texas and Michigan's defense. Those are elite programs with tons of guys who were born to play on Sundays. I think where Penix goes matters, but I trust his arm and football instincts to help whatever team he does land on win on many NFL Sundays.

I may be slightly biased, but Penix won me over these last four seasons. I know what he is all about.

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