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:

Will LevisTank BigsbyJordan AddisonTBD
Spencer Rattler* (2024)Sean TuckerQuentin Johnston
Anthony RichardsonZach CharbonnetJaxon Smith-Njigba
Michael Penix Jr.* (2024)Blake Corum* (2024)Jalin Hyatt
Josh Downs

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 healthy? Let’s dive in and find out.

Date: 11.18.2022
: Michael Penix Jr. | QB | Washington #9
DOB: 05.08.2000 | 22 years old
H/W: 6’ 3″ | 214 lbs

YearCompletionsAttemptsComp %YardsTDINTRush AttemptsRush YardsRush TD


NFL Draft Projection:

4th Round Pick – On a personal level, it kind of sucks putting Penix in Day 3. His college story pulls the heartstrings. He has seen every season end with injury. He’s shown arm talent and enough athleticism that coaches look for. His highlight throws are gems. His stats have consistently been solid. He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy to put it all together…until this year. Unfortunately, this offense that Penix has had so much success in doesn’t translate well to the NFL, nor does it provide opportunity to showcase skills required of a quarterback at the next level. Expanding his quarterback skills will be a bit of a project, and the extensive injury history is going to be scary for coaches and GMs to invest in. Through all this, I wouldn’t have expected a large investment from an NFL front office in 2023, though he will have a year to improve before the 2024 draft.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB:

Undrafted – 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.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB:

4th Round Pick – As mentioned above, this is based on the above projection for 2023. A quarterback with Penix’s physical and athletic profile would normally warrant a decent pick, even more-so in SF/2QB leagues. However, given his projected draft capital, I think he’ll be a late, “take a shot on me” type of pick. If he balls out next year, the NFL draft projection would improve and so would this fantasy draft projection.

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 quality athleticism.

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

Mechanically, he’s all arm. There’s very little hip rotation and torque in his throws. This causes him to fall off during his release and results in inconsistent ball placement. His mechanics 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 rarely gets past his first read.

It’s not uncommon to identify the defense pre-snap and pick where you’d like to throw. 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 into one throw will hold you down on a 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 is expected of a first year starter, not one playing his fifth year of college ball.

Watching the Washington offense closer, it is further evident that 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 was genuinely 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 well.

He must identify the defensive playcall pre-snap and adjust as needed post-snap. Obviously, he’s got to get the ball to the receiver and place it in a catchable location. He has to take care of the football by limiting turnovers and negative plays. Ideally, he does this in an efficient manner with an internal clock to get the ball out of his hands quickly.

These are all things which he does well.

When that skillset is combined with a natural though rarely utilized athleticism, it sure looks like the physical profile of a potential NFL quarterback. I think this will warrant a team drafting him early on Day 3 with the hopes they can teach him a complex NFL offense before his rookie deal is done.

While 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.

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.

Penix almost exclusively reads only half the field. In fact, most playcalls only need Penix to read a single defensive key.

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, very rarely will he reach a third read, but even then it’s typically all on one half of the field.

This is a huge limitation for anyone looking to execute an NFL 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 timing route that isn’t even run. This shows a predetermined throw, which make up a surprisingly large number of Penix’s throws.

On the second snap we’ll see a simple Ohio route concept. The receiver closest to the sideline runs a clear route, 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 if this was a stronger skill of his. He also has running lanes to pick up a couple yards. 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), a very good receiver likely to be drafted when he declares.

McMillan runs a beautiful out route off an inside stem. This buys time for the clear routes 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. Another two route half-field which Penix stares down.

Setting aside the concerns listed above, when called upon, Penix has shown a very good arm capable of making big time throws.

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. These are beautiful NFL-caliber throws.

In the first snap, 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.

The defensive key to read on this route combination 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.

Penix does a great job spotting the rotation. This is clearly not a predetermined throw. He reads his key and chucks a perfect strike to the opposite boundary, squeezing the ball in just before the defender gets there, leaving the receiver with nobody standing between him and a touchdown.

The throw is great, but catching the rotation post-snap is impressive too.

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 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, layered throws like this weren’t a common or consistent part of his game. Not enough to be considered a strength. In fact, I typically saw him look off these opportunities. We can see he’s capable of it, and it sure looks pretty here.

While the layered throws weren’t common or consistent, anticipatory throws and looking off safeties were. We already saw one anticipatory throw in the very first snap shown. He does this often, and he’s at his best when operating in a timing system.

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.

He also does really well to manipulate the defense with his eyes. Whenever he spots MOFC (middle of the field closed…ie. Cover 1/Cover 3), especially when there’s a vertical route involved, he pins the middle field safety with his eyes until the moment of the throw.

Also, he’s got 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. But coupled with that, Penix’s internal clock gets the ball out of his hands quickly.

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 consistently get rid of the ball right around three seconds.

As we saw in one of the first snaps, 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 caused by half-field reads and limited route combinations 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 yards off target.

It’s very likely this is influenced by his mechanics, specifically his hips. 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 hips get stuck at the end. 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.

He 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 OK 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…

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.

One asset which Penix has, but rarely uses, is his 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 ability to throw on the run.

Recently, Penix has announced he’s going back to school. Let’s look at the positives and the negatives of this decision.

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

Negatives: Another injury would make him un-draftable, and another year without improving his issues might too.

Similar to my comments in the Malik Willis scouting report (read it here), I have serious concerns about his inability to read a full field, or to advance beyond a one key defensive read.

For a first year starter, it’s almost expected. That these issues persist for a fifth year player is nearly inexcusable. For Malik Willis, I noted the following:

“I’ve thought about this a lot, and I don’t say this lightly: Willis’ processing issues scare me.

…he runs a highly simplified offense, and he’s not even asked to do much within that offensive structure – two reads then run.

…Oh, and by the way, it’s not like this is Willis’ first or second foray into the fray of college football. The ’21-’22 season was his fifth year in college. The coverages aren’t exotic anymore; they’re the norm. He shouldn’t need time to adapt to the speed of the game; he’s been living in it for years.”

My concerns are similar for Penix. He’s an older, veteran player whose limitations are similar to what you’d see from a freshman. Next year will be his SIXTH year playing college football…

There are two major differences between Penix and Willis. First – Willis had insane hype pushing him up draft boards. He still didn’t go until the third round. Second – we saw during the 2022 NFL Draft that teams are no longer willing to reach for mediocre talent at quarterback.

This second point is a big departure from previous years, and naturally knocks all non-elite quarterbacks a bit. For Penix, this means he’s likely to go on Day 3…at best.

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:

Will LevisTank BigsbyJordan AddisonTBD
Spencer Rattler* (2024)Sean TuckerQuentin Johnston
Anthony RichardsonZach CharbonnetJaxon Smith-Njigba
Michael Penix Jr.* (2024)Blake Corum* (2024)Jalin Hyatt
Josh Downs

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