Michael Penix Jr. Scouting Report

In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We go a step further, providing an in-depth review showing off examples of what we do and don’t like. We’ve included a date from the initial scouting report. Updated notes may get added and dated over the course of the the year. With that, welcome to the Michael Penix Jr. scouting report!

If you’d like to see more, below are all the completed scouting reports for this season:

QBRBWRTE
Drake MayeBlake CorumComing soon!Coming soon!
Michael Penix Jr.
Spencer Rattler

The injury history of Michael Penix Jr.’s college career is already longer and more serious than many long-time NFL players’: right ACL tear in 2018, sternoclavicular joint in 2019, another right ACL in 2020, and AC shoulder joint in 2021. He’ll have one more year to add to that, as he has opted to go back to school. So, how has he looked? Let’s dive in and find out.

Date: 11.18.2022 | Updated: 09.24.2023
Details: Michael Penix Jr. | QB | Washington #9
DOB: 05.08.2000 | 23 years old
H/W: 6’ 3″ | 214 lbs

YearCompletionsAttemptsComp %YardsTDINTRush AttemptsRush YardsRush TD
2018213461.8219107450
201911016068.81394104221192
202012422056.4164514418252
20218716253.79394717-242
202236255465.3464131835924
2023*10313874.616361626140

Projection

NFL Draft Projection:

2nd Round Pick – My initial thought of Penix was a 4th round pick due to the extensive injury history and questions of whether or not the Washington offense was a good showcase for NFL talent. I’m bumping him up because he maintained his health and because the issues I see – largely ball placement – are small compared to others. Meanwhile his strengths can translate well to any offense. His highlight throws are gems (helped by stellar receivers), the ball zips out of his hand, he makes decisions quickly, and his stats have consistently been solid. He just hadn’t been able to stay healthy to put it all together…until a ridiculous 2023 season in an exciting Washington offense.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB:

Late 2nd to 3rd Round Pick – Originally I thought he’d be an UDFA in 1QB fantasy leagues, stating, “This projection is heavily influenced by the 2023 projection of NFL draft capital above. If he shows he’s not a product of scheme and answers the injury questions one more year, an improvement to Day 2 draft capital in 2024 could warrant a mid-late round pick.” Given that I’ve updated my NFL projection, this should be updated accordingly.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB:

Late 1st Round Pick – Penix will likely be one of the first few quarterbacks off the board in 2024. I don’t foresee an early pick even in SF/2QB leagues, but a mid or late-1st is certainly possible.

Scouting Brief

If all you’ve seen of Michael Penix Jr. is a highlight reel on YouTube, it would be understandable to question the projections I listed above. The guy has some amazing plays showcasing outstanding arm talent and all-around skills at quarterback.

As you look deeper into Penix, you’ll find he’s not without flaws.

Mechanically, he’s all arm. There’s little hip rotation and whip/torque to his throws. This can cause him to fall off during his release and occasionally results in inconsistent ball placement. If not addressed, his mechanics could limit his potential arm talent.

This has shown to be fixable with significant efforts, especially in recent years.

More concerning are his propensity to predetermine throws and inability to get beyond half-field reads. Penix rarely ever scans the field. In fact, he often doesn’t get past his first read.

It’s not uncommon to identify the defense pre-snap and pick where you’d like the throw to go. However, an inability or unwillingness to move beyond that read is an issue. Throwing a dangerous ball or wasting a snap with a throwaway solely due to locking on one read can hold you down on an NFL depth chart.

These issues can come from a few different places: he’s identified the best matchup/coverage beater pre-snap and predetermines where to throw, or he’s only reading one defensive key, or the offense only gives him one or two viable route(s) to throw to. Or any/all of the above.

This shouldn’t be an issue from someone playing his sixth year of college ball. However, the Washington offense is uniquely potent.

Watching the Washington offense closer, Penix is receiving quite a lot of help. The offense is built to be quarterback and passing-stat friendly through spread formations and simple, quick-hitting route combinations. Often there is only one viable route to throw to, typically no more than two.

Making his job even easier, the offensive line is a stellar pass blocking unit and his receivers are extremely good. He rarely had to deal with pressure, and his receivers were able to bail him out in ways other quarterbacks don’t get.

These high quality surroundings opens the door to more questions. Can he navigate a collapsing pocket and keep his eyes downfield? Can he operate off-schedule? How does pressure affect him?

Having said all that, Penix does still have a job to do in the offense, which he does extremely well.

He identifies the defensive playcall pre-snap and adjusts as needed post-snap. Obviously, he gest the ball to the receiver and generally places it in a catchable location. He takes care of the football, limiting turnovers and negative plays, and does this in an efficient manner with an internal clock that gets the ball out of his hands quickly.

These are all things which he does extremely well and sure looks like the foundation for an NFL quarterback. I think his arm talent and decisiveness will warrant a team drafting him early on Day 2 with the hopes they can improve his mechanics and consistency in ball placement, as well as transition him into a complex NFL offense before his rookie deal is done.

While initially working on this report, Penix announced that he was going back to school for one more year. Let’s see if Penix can unlock the full potential of the Washington offense next year and fix some of the noted issues.

Updated 01.13.2023:

I’ve updated my notes above slightly to shine a brighter light on Penix’s strengths.

Detailed Breakdown

Watching Penix play, it was clear in just one offensive drive that he has an NFL caliber arm and enough athleticism to be a threat.

After watching for a quarter it was evident that he’s helped a lot by the offensive talent surrounding him.

By halftime I was questioning whether he could run an NFL offense at all.

Washington utilizes a spread offense with a lot of spread and empty sets. This gives the illusion (thanks Madden) that there are four of five routes available to throw to. That may be true for some offensive systems and with a quarterback who reads a full field, but that’s not Penix.

Most playcalls only ask Penix to read a single defensive key, then pull the trigger on one of one of two routes.

He does a good job identifying the defense presnap, and often picks where he’s going to throw before snapping the ball. Sometimes he’ll have a second route available based on how the play shakes out. Very rarely he will reach a third read, but even then it’s typically all on one half of the field.

Hopefully, this is a symptom of excellent anticipation and decisiveness, not an inability to execute a more complex offense.

I put together a few snaps which show how Penix runs the Washington offense.

In the first snap, you’ll see a clear miscommunication. The receivers are both looking to block. Penix fires to a route that isn’t even run. Is this great anticipation, or a predetermined throw?

On the second snap we’ll see a simple Ohio route concept. The receiver closest to the sideline clears, while the second receiver runs an out route from the slot. There is only one viable route on this side of the formation, and because it’s smothered, Penix sees no other option but to throw it away.

This is unfortunate. The defense dropped eight into coverage, leaving only three to rush. Penix has an extremely clean pocket where he could stay and scan the field. He also has running lanes to pick up a couple yards and make for an easier 3rd down. Still, he throws it away.

Finally, the third snap shows a nice throw and completion to the opposite sideline. The two outside receivers are again just clearing out, occupying the defenders instead of trying to get open. The third receiver is Jalen McMillan (WR #11), an outstanding receiver who should be drafted high.

McMillan runs a beautiful route which buys time for the clear-outs and earns space to the sideline. Penix stands in a clean pocket and stares it down the whole way, eventually throwing and connecting near the sideline. A great connection on a half-field two-route combo.

Setting aside the concerns listed above, when called upon, Penix has shown a very good arm capable of making big time throws. The ball just zips off his fingers.

While his skillset and tendencies push him toward a timing based system, he certainly has the arm strength needed for a vertical offense. He’s had a number of monster throws, including these ~63 and ~55 air yard throws.

In the first snap, Penix rolls to his right. Keep in mind that as a southpaw, this is his non-dominant side. He has to reset his feet and come to balance in order to make a throw. This one just so happens to travel ~63 air yards down the field.

Unfortunately, he waited too long to get this ball off and it’s underthrown and incomplete. However, the second snap is a throw of beauty.

In the second snap, the slot receiver burns his deep quarter defender, allowing Penix to drop a dime ~55 yards down the field. This ball is perfectly placed, allowing the receiver to catch it in stride and run it in for a touchdown.

Not only does he show serious arm strength to chuck the ball downfield, Penix also has fit the ball in small windows, and layered it between defenders, showcasing beautiful NFL-caliber throws.

In the first snap of the next video, we see another Ohio concept, where the outside receiver runs a vertical and the slot runs an out route. The defense is in a 3-deep look pre-snap.

With this defense, the outside corner typically carries the vertical route. An out route puts a lot of stress against this defense and would be a great option here. Generally, the key to read is the outside corner. If he’s deep, throw shallow (the out route)…if he’s shallow, throw deep (the vertical).

However, the defense rolls into a 2-deep look post-snap, the hash DB sprints back to cover his deep half. This means the outside corner squats on the out route and takes it away. This is a perfect disguise and coverage rotation to get a huge play, even a turnover.

Unlike the previously seen pre-determined throw, Penix does a great job adjusting after the snap. He spots the rotation, reads his key and chucks a perfect strike to the opposite boundary, squeezing the ball in just before the defender gets there. This leaves the receiver with nobody standing between him and a touchdown.

The throw is great, but spotting the rotation post-snap is impressive too and alleviates some of the concerns with pre-determined throws.

In the second snap we see another two route, half-field read. The running back is flexed into the slot on the left and running to the flat.

The split receiver to this side is Rome Odunze (WR #1). Odunze is another extremely good Washington receiver who will certainly be drafted highly and playing in the NFL soon. On this snap he’s tasked with a corner route, creating a Smash concept with the flat beneath.

Penix throws the Corner with incredible placement. Two underneath defenders are floating to the corner route, while the deep safety overtop is coming down on it as well. The ball is layered just beyond both defenders’ outstretched arms perfectly.

While this was a beautiful throw, I didn’t see enough layered throws to consider it a strength. In fact, I saw him move off some of these opportunities. He’s absolutely capable of it, and it sure looks pretty when it happens.

While the layered throws weren’t common or consistent, anticipatory throws and looking off safeties were. We’ve already seen anticipatory throws, which Penix does often. Certainly, this is a major strength of his.

I’ve grabbed just two of the anticipatory throws I saw, both of which were thrown before the receiver had even thought to look for the football.

In the first, we see McMillan (WR #11) in motion. Keep your eye on him. He’s running a quick out route and Penix locks onto him before the ball is snapped.

Penix starts throwing the ball before McMillan is out of his break, which – given how shallow the route is – doesn’t leave a lot of time for McMillan to spot and snatch the ball. McMillan makes an outstanding catch to convert this 4th & 5.

In the second snap, it’s a back shoulder to Odunze (WR #1). Once again, Penix begins to throw extremely early in the route, anticipating Odunze will be able to adjust to the back shoulder and make the catch.

As we’ve seen with earlier throws, Penix has a great internal clock. Pressure wasn’t something he dealt with often. His offensive line is a great pass blocking unit, and the system is designed to get the ball out quickly, so Penix rarely takes pressure or gets hit.

Here’s just a quick look at something I saw a lot of. If his routes never opened up, his clock would consistently kick in. He’d regularly get rid of the ball right around three seconds.

As we saw in the earlier snap vs drop-8, this wasn’t always a good thing. Because his pass blocking was so good, he would often be throwing the ball away from a clean pocket. So – while an internal clock is great – quick throwaways often ended up a wasted play.

Still much better than a negative play.

Solid arm strength, anticipation, timing, and structure within an offense are all a big plus. However, his ball placement is inconsistent.

There’s no denying he’s shown the ability to drop a football on a dime from 40 yards out, we’ve already seen a few of them. Unfortunately, there are also a number of examples with throws going a few degrees and multiple yards off target.

It’s very likely this is influenced by his mechanics, specifically his lower half. He doesn’t seem to be able to clear his hips when he throws, and so largely throws with just his arm.

When you watch his throws, you can see his arm clears first and hips get stuck. Even more noticeable, he falls off to his right during/after most throws. This leads to inconsistencies in ball placement.

I’ve taken a few examples to show in the below clip.

The first snap we see a great route combination designed to draw the defenders away from the boundary to allow a wheel route to develop. It works to perfection, and could have potentially been a touchdown had the throw not been so far behind.

The tight end, Devin Culp (TE #83) ends up having to stop all momentum and turn around, barely securing this one. Worse, securing the reception actually pulled him out of bounds. It looks good on the stat sheet, but it’s a huge missed opportunity.

In the second snap, we can see one of the reasons Odunze is such a solid prospect. He’s somehow able to secure this off-target pass. Full extension after leaping with great body contortion and control, not to mention excellent hands. Great catch on a poor throw.

The third snap we don’t even see the receiver attempt to make the catch. In fact, he turns to see if the defender brings it in, just in case he needs to make a tackle.

In the fourth snap, the throw is well wide and too far out of reach. It’s a near-side throw only a few yards downfield, but still two or three yards off target.

Fifth snap is a wide open throw for a clear touchdown on 3rd and long. The throw sails on him well out of reach. Thankfully, Washington was already cruising to a win with a huge lead…but these misses happen often enough to worth noting.

These ball placement issues occur at any depth or area of the field. Penix is lucky to have an NFL-caliber receiving core available to reel in many of his inaccuracies, but on Sundays – when the windows are much smaller – these can be worse than just missed opportunities.

Penix has decent athleticism. It’s certainly not elite, but it’s enough to move the chains when the opportunity comes up.

More than running for yards, Penix does a great job throwing on the run. While he prefers to stay in the pocket and throw, there’s a few plays showing good athleticism and arm talent outside the pocket.

I’ve pulled together just a few snaps from the game against Oregon to give a glimpse of his athleticism and – more important – his ability to throw on the run.

With Penix playing one more year, let’s look at the positives and the negatives of this decision.

Positives: He will have an entire season to work on his mechanics and ball placement.

Negatives: Another serious injury could make him, tragically, near un-draftable.

Given his talent, the outstanding scheme, and the phenomenal talent surrounding him, Penix – if healthy – should set himself up to be a solid draft pick.

Additional details

What do you see for Penix? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!

For more scouting reports, click any of the links below:

QBRBWRTE
Drake MayeBlake CorumComing soon!Coming soon!
Michael Penix Jr.
Spencer Rattler

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