Michael Penix Jr: NFL Draft profile, Fantasy Football & Dynasty outlook, full scouting report, more






Michael Penix Jr: NFL Draft profile, Fantasy Football & Dynasty outlook, full scouting report, more

Find out why the Heisman Trophy runner-up has a chance to be a Fantasy Football monster

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About three weeks after Tom Brady was taken 199th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft, Michael Tarrence Penix Jr. was born in Cookeville, Tennessee. He was the first of three kids to parents Michael Sr. and Takisha, both of whom were established athletes at Tennessee Tech University (Michael played running back in college and also defensive back in high school; Takisha ran track). They moved to Dade City, Fla. (an hour northeast of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa) where Penix was known simply as “Little Mike,” the kid with a lightning bolt in his left arm. He played high school ball at Pasco High before transferring to Tampa Bay Tech, who ran a spread offense that suited Penix’s passing prowess and didn’t ask him to run. 

In two years, Penix totaled 61 touchdowns with just three interceptions, leading Tech to the playoffs twice including the Class 6A region finals. He also played basketball (the kid has an incredible wingspan and vertical to block shots) and ran track (22 feet in long jump and 22.8 in 200m dash). Penix initially committed to Tennessee in 2017 but backed out when the school fired Butch Jones, changing to Indiana to follow QB coach Nick Sheridan.

Penix played sparingly as a true freshman at Indiana in 2018 for three games before tearing his right ACL in mid-September. He redshirted and returned in 2019 as the Hoosiers’ starter, working with then-OC/quarterbacks coach Kalen DeBoer, but only played in six games due to a right (non-throwing) shoulder injury. Back as the starter again in 2020, Penix suffered a torn ACL in the same knee that November. Penix played five games in 2021 but didn’t finish the season due to another shoulder injury (this time it was his left). After 21 games in four seasons at Indiana, Penix reunited with DeBoer at Washington where he was immediately named the Huskies starter. In two seasons there, the lefty threw 67 touchdowns and just over 9,500 yards with 19 interceptions in 28 games. He won the Maxwell Award and was named the AP Comeback Player of the Year in 2022 and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting in 2023 even though he led the NCAA in passing yards. Penix also played in the National Championship against Michigan.

Age as of Week 1: 24 | Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 218 | 40-time: n/a

Comparable body-type to: Geno Smith

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about Penix from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats, and an NFL comparison.

Dynasty outlook

The dude has a magnificent left arm, but Penix’s injury history is impossible to ignore, as is the fact he’ll be 24 years old in May. Both narrow his potential to be a franchise quarterback and thus a big Fantasy Football asset. The hope is that a franchise believes in his ability and doesn’t fret over his injury history, putting him on track to make an impact right away. If that happens in a fast-paced spread offense surrounded by good talent, there’s potential he could have a hot start to his career. But if he’s parked behind a veteran and/or in an imperfect offense, we could be waiting a while to see his best numbers. And all of the above could come crashing to a halt if his body can’t hold up — Penix does not have a lot of time to spend rehabbing injuries. Penix will more than likely be a Top 8 pick in Superflex/two-QB rookie-only drafts, but a late-Round 1 pick at best in one-QB rookie formats. His appeal in redraft leagues will be limited to the later rounds depending on the landing spot — there’s a realistic possibility he won’t get taken in one-QB versions.

Best realistic Fantasy fits

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons don’t have the luxury of a Top 5 pick, which means Penix could easily fall to them at No. 8 (or a little lower if they trade down). Penix would be an immediate upgrade to the quarterbacks they had last year and have a veteran O-line already in place as well as a pair of good pass-catchers in Drake London and Kyle Pitts. This might be Penix’s best destination to be impactful as a rookie.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos will have a cap mess once they move on from Russell Wilson, one that can be eased if they find a rookie quarterback at 12th overall whose contract won’t weigh on the franchise for a while. Working with Sean Payton figures to benefit almost any quarterback — even Wilson had an efficient season in 2023. Penix could probably stick to his strengths while working in Payton’s West Coast offense. Cannon-armed Drew Brees became a Hall of Famer with Payton; Penix could be utilized in similar ways.

Las Vegas Raiders

Head coach Antonio Pierce didn’t commit to Aidan O’Connell as his starter in a late January press conference, leaving the door open for the Raiders to take a quarterback as soon as 13th overall. The idea of Penix over-targeting Davante Adams sounds amazing, but it’s worth pointing out that Las Vegas went to a very run-heavy approach once Pierce took over the team last season. Could that be because he didn’t have a great quarterback? That’s certainly possible, but it might stay that way until a rookie like Penix proves he can play well consistently. That waters down the upside of Penix in Vegas as a rookie, but in time the team should develop nicely around any new starter.

Next-best Fantasy fits: Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington

Least-appealing Fantasy fits: Tennessee, New England; Seattle, New Orleans and Miami because he’d have to wait to play

Scouting report

Strengths

  • Has good height for the position. Generated strength from his not-too-lean, not-too-thick legs. Long, gangly arms of which his left one helped him naturally generate velocity. Also has a thick torso that helps him absorb contact.
  • Fearless in the pocket. Poised. Capably read and processed defenses both pre- and post-snap. The more time he had to throw, the more dangerous he got.
  • Rarely caved to pass rush pressure and gave the Huskies a fighting chance, if not a brilliant downfield play. Kept his eyes downfield consistently and was good at avoiding sacks — he was sacked on 1.4% of his pass plays last year. 
  • Mobility in and around the pocket was great. Penix isn’t a rusher in the same mold as Lamar Jackson or even Sam Howell. Though he is capable of running and occasionally did so, he seemingly preferred to throw.
  • Quick release with a snappy wrist on his throws.
  • Had very good eye discipline, rarely tipping off where he was going with the football. Did not lock on to receivers as often as his contemporaries and had a number of attempts where he’d swivel his head and throw in an effort to psych out safeties.
  • More of a see-it thrower but did display good anticipatory passing skills with the potential to be so much better.
  • Very good arm strength with rocket velocity. Had 36 passes travel at least 40 Air Yards in 2022 and 2023. But perhaps more importantly, Penix routinely had the drive and power to connect on long throws from the far hash to the opposite sideline. He had the kind of arm that forced defenses to defend sideline-to-sideline and shallow-to-deep.
  • Ball placement was solid on longer throws, better on shorter and intermediate throws. Had a knack for getting the ball to the receiver magnificently on fade and Cover-2 turkey hole passes down the sideline (and tried more of those throws than anyone in the FBS last year).
  • Cognitively aware to take care of the football at all times. Penix would regularly check a pass down or throw a pass away before forcing it into harm’s way, though occasional late-game exceptions did occur and were understandable. This did not mean he wasn’t aggressive — he was 12th in the FBS in passes of 20-plus Air Yards attempted — just that he was smart about his business.
  • Had total faith in his top receivers at Washington, routinely giving them chances to make plays when in 1-on-1 situations downfield. This led to explosive plays.
  • Between Indiana and Washington, Penix spent five seasons in the same offensive system. Offense at Washington is best described as Spread with West Coast and RPO concepts.  

Concerns

  • Will be 24 years old before his first NFL training camp practice. By comparison, Anthony Richardson, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Sam Howell are all younger by at least four months.
  • Footwork was inconsistent, even when he had clean pockets. There were times his feet weren’t in sync with his eyes nor were they set when he chose to throw. Multiple people on our staff noticed some overstrides that could have limited his hip rotation. Penix also threw off his back foot a lot, though there are many good plays he made last year doing so. Overall, there’s room for improvement here. 
  • While Penix knew where to go with the football, he sometimes needed an extra second to make the decision and throw it. This can be improved.
  • Throwing motion has some inconsistencies to it. Sometimes it was flawless, sometimes he took a second to wind-up, sometimes the pass came out sidearmed. Not sure if this is a concern as much as something a team must be OK with.
  • Between his footwork, decision-making and throwing motion, Penix was sometimes a little late on his throws.
  • Biggest performance issues came when Penix was pressured. He avoided sacks constantly but hurried through his technique and rushed his decisions in these situations, leading to higher rates of inaccuracy (20.7% of pressured throws were off-target). Primary tendency was to throw deep when pass rush was imminent; there were occasions when that worked out for Washington but not even remotely close to consistently. Each of his last four interceptions of 2023 came when Penix was pressured, three on deep attempts. Expect him to get blitzed a bunch in the pros.
  • Had occasional misfires and overthrows when he wasn’t pressured, plays which might be related to his overall mechanics.
  • Many of Penix’s most dazzling throws were toward the sideline, but had a 21.7% off-target rate outside of the numbers on the season compared to 9.5% over the middle of the field. There’s no question he can make sideline throws but his accuracy in that direction (61.8% completion rate) isn’t ideal. Additionally, Penix didn’t attempt a lot of deep throws down the middle of the field last year — just 49 attempts traveled 15-plus Air Yards with a not-bad-at-all 61.2% completion rate and a 20.4% TD rate. Whoever coaches Penix next should implement more of those throws.
  • No better than solid speed when he did decide to take off and run.
  • Perhaps the biggest concern of all: Penix has had a litany of injuries including two torn ACLs (both in his right knee), an AC joint separation in his left shoulder and an AC joint separation in his right (non-throwing) shoulder that required surgery. Medical evaluations will be critical. It is worth noting that Penix has been injury-free since 2021 and claimed he never got hurt before playing college ball.

Stats breakdown

G Cmp% PaYds Yds/Att PaTD PaINT RuAtt RuYds RuAvg RuTD
2023 15 65.4% 4903 8.8 36 11 36 8 0.2 3
2023 v Top-25 7 61.9% 2056 7.8 14 5 22 21 1.0 3
Career at UW 28 65.4% 9544 8.6 67 19 71 100 1.4 7

Advanced stats to know

  • Threw 10.3% of his targets to running backs, 67.7% to wide receivers and 15.3% to tight ends. Tight ends were a regular part of the Washington offense.
  • Among the “big five” prospects in this year’s draft (Penix, Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels and J.J. McCarthy), Penix was worst in off-target rate (14.4%), second-worst in completion rate (65.4%), yards per attempt (8.8) and TD rate (6.5%) with the highest rate of passes with 20-plus Air Yards (21%) and the most interceptions (11).
  • Penix was also blitzed the least among the “big five” (24.7%) and did have the second-lowest sack rate in the group — his 2.1% rate actually ranked seventh-lowest in the FBS, proof he did a good job avoiding getting taken down.
  • Penix was credited with getting pressured on 140 pass attempts in 2023, 25.2% of his total attempts. He completed 42.1% of those attempts with a 20.7% off-target rate (both lowest among the “big five”) for 7.7 yards per attempt (third among the “big five”) on a 12.2 ADOT (highest among the “big five”) with a tiny 4.3% TD rate (worst among the “big five”).
  • Penix also had a shockingly low 36.4% completion rate when pressured and throwing a pass under five Air Yards downfield (85th out of 118 qualifiers in the FBS). Twenty-four of his 66 such attempts here were deemed throwaways, another incredible total.
  • When Penix wasn’t pressured and tried passes of 15-plus Air Yards, he was top-15 in the nation in completion rate (53.1%), but still no better than fourth among the “big five.”
  • Overall, Penix was top-20 in the nation in completion rate on throws of 15-plus Air Yards with a 13.2% TD rate (top-30) with middle-of-the-pack results in INT rate (4.4%) and off-target throws (32.1%).
  • In the red zone, Penix completed 63.2% of his throws with a 26.3% TD rate; 11.8% of his throws were deemed off-target. All three ranked third-best among the “big five.” Penix had the third-most red-zone pass attempts in the nation. He also had two interceptions on 76 red-zone attempts last year and seven interceptions on 247 career red-zone throws, neither of which are great.
  • Excluding sacks, Penix had 24 runs for 100 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and three touchdowns on the ground.
  • Had 568 yards on 71 attempts on easy throws — quick outs, WR screens, backfield outs and shovel passes (both were most among the “big five”).
  • 73 snaps from under center (20th most in the nation; second-highest among the “big five”).

NFL Comparison

Penix has a lot of traits that we could compare to many players, but I felt like if we remove the injury concerns he is closest to Jordan Love. Both have good arm strength, both aren’t afraid of pass rush pressure, both will challenge downfield, both fully trust their receivers in tight coverage and both have good mobility without having to often rely on rushing. Love needed time to learn how to go through his reads and process defensive coverage; Penix might be ahead of where Love was when he was a draft prospect. Hopefully both can ultimately overcome their high off-target throwing rates (Love did make progress in that area this season). 

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