Pro executives, scouts and coaches rank and rate the top 20 prospects in this QB class

Expected: Rounds 1-2

Penix (6-2 1/4, 216), a Heisman Trophy runner-up and one of the most productive passers in college football last season, is one of the most polarizing prospects in this draft — and some coaches are believers, which is a tall order despite his injury history.

“The second-best quarterback in the draft, just as a pure film evaluation, is Michael Penix,” the AFC assistant coach said. “When someone gets injured a lot of times, the concern is durability over time. Is his body going to weaken? I'm a coach, dude. I don't care about that. I think he's got the biggest factor. He's standing in the pocket and making throws consistently. He won Indiana, they were (ranked) in the top 10. He led Washington to the national championship game and to me he plays with a lot of confidence, and his guys love him.”

Penix was a three-year starter at Indiana, but suffered four straight season-ending injuries: a torn ACL in 2018, a right shoulder (non-throwing) injury in 2019, a torn ACL in 2020, and a tear. The AC joint is on his left. (Throwing) Shoulder in 2021. Sources say initial medical examinations have confirmed that Penix's twice-reconstructed right knee is structurally sound; He also received a positive report in January from renowned surgeon Dr. Neil El Atrash, who found no problem with the meniscus or any other associated damage. Some teams still will give him a lower medical grade based on recurring injury, but nothing that would cause him to fail the physical. Penix's lack of mobility – or perhaps reluctance to use it – is a bigger consideration for some teams.

“He's going to need a lot of structuring, because he had the best combination of protection and pass-catching threats,” one NFC executive said, referring to Washington's loaded offense that features two potential first-round picks in this year's draft, receiver Roma. Odunze and lineman Troy Fautanu. “He took the fewest hits out of the best quarterbacks. I think he got it quick.” [8] yards per season. Then you have to take into account medicine. He's a two-time ACL guy. But arm strength? He's got the strongest arm out of all these players we're talking about. It's just a matter, your husband should be well prepared to drop a guy like this in. Your protection must be strong. You have to feel good about your attack, as it will pace him. “He won't be an off-stage man.”

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“He's a little weak when you look at him, so you can see where some injuries have happened, where those other guys are — they have the ability to escape, they have the ability to move. He's not as accurate as those big players,” the NFC quarterbacks coach said. He misses some throws, some plant throws, and his release is a little longer than some of these other players, even though he probably had the best group drill among the players who threw.

In Washington, Penix reunited with Kalen DeBoer, who was his OC at Indiana in 2019, and threw for more than 9,500 yards and 67 touchdowns in two seasons with the Huskies. Penix's final college campaign was his best, as he led the FBS with 4,903 yards while earning second-team AP All-America honors.

“He's played a lot of football. He's a good thrower. The ball comes out fast. He handles quick. He's accurate. He's a natural thrower,” the AFC quarterbacks coach said, noting that Penix never called a play in the huddle. “A lot of things are put on his wrist (in the NFL), so he can read it. But there's definitely going to be a little bit of time for him to adjust to the NFL type of offense and the verbiage and all that stuff. I'll do that because he's the right kind of kid.” He is smart enough.”

In 48 games (45 starts) over six seasons at Indiana and Washington, Penix completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 13,741 yards and 96 touchdowns with 34 interceptions. He also had 13 rushing touchdowns, but just 265 total yards.

“Man, you wish it was a little more, because you like the guy, you like the way he plays,” one AFC executive said. “He's really smart. He's one of those guys, where if a guy's open, he finds it with his eyes. He can get hot and cut people out of the pocket. It's not because he's throwing lasers or because he's so fast and agile — he just finds it. If you break coverage, he'll He puts it on his man. He's not as accurate as you think when you dig into the film. That's probably the one piece that makes his receivers look a lot better. His ball placement has been a little unorthodox this year.

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Penix's low, left-handed delivery often comes up in conversations with scouts and coaches.

“Unless he throws the ball outside the damn numbers, it's going to get hit,” another AFC executive said. “He throws it on a fucking rope every time. He throws a deep ball — I've seen that, okay, great. He's got that damn move. He's not touched.”

“I know there's a video of him in games where he gets his hand under the ball. But when you watch him in the lineup, he has the widest wingspan (81 inches), widest shoulders, 10,” one NFC coach said. [1/2-inch] Hands – this guy can spin it.”

Penix was 27-of-51 passing for 255 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while getting stranded in the national title game, a 34-13 loss to Michigan.

“The injuries, age and talent around him make it difficult,” the NFC coordinator said of Penix, who turns 24 next month. “For whatever reason, I think it's always difficult to evaluate a left-handed player, because you see so few of them. I think he has a lot of flash plays and I think he has a lot of talent. There's no mobility. There's a high risk of injury. National Championship Game – I move A lot about it, because I think his offensive line has just been destroyed. He looks nervous and he looks almost scared, and I understand that, but I don't see a world where he can get past Seattle (for 16th).”

“I don't think so,” another NFC quarterbacks coach said [the throwing motion is] a big deal. The most important thing is, does he get there on time, and does he get there accurately? He sees it well. It's instinctive. I can see why people love him. “I think the kid has a natural feeling that he's passing, and that's something you can't train.”

Penix participated in Senior Bowl practices, but withdrew from the game. Although he rarely used his legs as a runner in college, Penix reportedly recorded a 40-yard dash Range 4.51-4.57 At his pro day, while also posting impressive numbers in the vertical jump (36 1/2 inches) and broad jump (10-5).

“He has to look great throwing in the air. The question is, can he handle people at his feet?” he added. Another NFC executive said. “I saw it in the national championship game. I saw it a little bit in the Senior Bowl. How would he be out of position?”

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“We thought if everything was on schedule, he was a very, very good midfielder who could make the throws,” said an AFC coordinator. “The moment he has to come out of the penalty spot, you don't know what's going to happen. How could that happen? Does it happen that you draft this guy to be a backup when you know, in the preseason, he's going to be playing with a backup line that's going to be running for his life, he's going to look like the owner is going to look at you? what the hell? Why did we draft this guy who couldn't play?

How polarizing is Penix? One scout ranked him seventh among QBs in this year's class, behind South Carolina's Spencer Rattler. Many coaches also put Rattler ahead of Penix. One of Penix's veteran coaches was player Brett Hundley.

“I actually like Rattler more than Penix,” said another NFC coordinator. “I keep seeing everything where [Penix is] He climbs, he climbs. Could he go to the Raiders at 13? I just didn't buy it. “It was very clean for him.”

Other scouts argue that Penix, despite doctors, is an overrated classic.

“I think he's been hit on so much (about health issues) that it's unnecessary,” the NFC scouting director said. “And the tape is so good this year. We can hit it all we want on that, too — you sit down and watch it along with these other guys, and you're like, ' “Well, he's earned the praise he gets.”

The Chiefs, Patriots, Broncos and Raiders have all brought Penix for visits; The Falcons worked with him one-on-one.

“His arm talent is really good. He's been really productive,” one AFC scouting director said. “I think all 10 players he was on the field with are current or future prospects. But he was also performing at a high level. I envision him in this Patriots-type offense. I'm in no way saying it's Tom Brady, but it's one of those offenses that “It spreads out horizontally and he gets the ball out quickly because the best thing he does is drive the ball outside the numbers, vertically up the field inside. The way he throws the ball, I can see him having success.”

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