QB Michael Penix Has All Sorts of Talent, but Do the Risks Outweigh the Benefits?

Nov 18, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) leaves following the victory against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings inevitably will be on the lookout for a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft.

In fact, just last week, both Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell were at the Senior Bowl keeping a close eye on a few quarterbacks who are set to enter this spring’s draft. One of those QBs was Michael Penix, who is coming off a fabulous season for the Washington Huskies, and now, he has his sights set on being a top draft pick.

In the next edition of the Vikings Draft Thermometer series, we’ll be taking a look at Penix’s skillset and what he has to offer to teams at the next level.


Michael Penix
Dec 29, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) carries the ball against the Texas Longhorns in the first half of the 2022 Alamo Bowl at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 212 pounds
  • Arm Length: 33 5/8″
  • Hand Size: 10 3/8″
  • Wingspan: 81 3/8″
  • 40-Yard Dash: TBD
  • School: Indiana (2018-2021), Washington (2022-2023)
  • Games Watched: Oregon State (2023), Texas (2023), Oregon (2023), Michigan (2023)

Michael Penix came out of high school listed as a three-star recruit by 247 Sports, and he was the 36th-ranked QB in the Class of 2018. After receiving offers from notable schools like Florida State, Oregon, and Tennessee, the quarterback ultimately committed to Indiana where he played the first four years of his collegiate career.

However, injuries quickly became a problem for Penix as he suffered a pair of ACL tears or season-ending shoulder injuries in each season with the Hoosiers. Following the conclusion of the 2021 season, he opted to transfer to Washington to try and rejuvenate his football career.

Penix did exactly that. Uniting with Kalen DeBoer, who took over the head coaching role in 2022, the Huskies went 11-2 during the 2022 season and won the Alamo Bowl over Texas. Then, 2023 saw Penix explode onto the national scene, leading the Huskies to a National Championship Game appearance and a PAC-12 title.

Now, the QB has hopes of becoming the first Washington quarterback to be selected in the NFL Draft since Jacob Eason in 2020.


Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Texas Longhorns in the 2024 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports


  • 2018: 21/34 (61.8%), 219 yards, 1 TD (3 games)
  • 2019: 110/160 (68.8%), 1394 yards, 10 TDs, 4 INTs (7 games)
  • 2020: 124/220 (56.4%), 1645 yards, 14 TDs, 4 INTs (6 games)
  • 2021: 87/162 (53.7%), 939 yards, 4 TDs, 7 INTs (5 games)
  • 2022: 362/554 (65.3%), 4641 yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs (13 games)
  • 2023: 363/555 (65.4%), 4903 yards, 36 TDs, 11 INTs (15 games)


  • 2018: 7 carries, 45 yards, 1 fumble (3 games)
  • 2019: 25 carries, 117 yards, 2 TDs, 2 fumbles (7 games)
  • 2020: 24 carries, 23 yards, 2 TDs, 1 fumble (6 games)
  • 2021: 13 carries, 24 yards, 2 TDs, 1 fumble (5 games)
  • 2022: 39 carries, 113 yards, 4 TDs, 2 fumbles (13 games)
  • 2023: 40 carries, 80 yards, 3 TDs, 4 fumbles (15 games)


Dec 29, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) carries the ball against the Texas Longhorns in the first half of the 2022 Alamo Bowl at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When Penix is able to stand and the pocket and throw, he is a very talented passer. He puts plenty of velocity on his throws, which allows him to fit passes into tight windows and push the ball downfield. He can go through his progressions well and reads coverages very well.

As a result of Penix’s ability to deliver accurate passes downfield, Washington built much of their offense around this ability. During the 2023 season, Penix led all of the FBS in pass attempts of 20+ yards (117), per PFF. He completed 51 of them for 1787 yards, 16 TDs, and seven interceptions.

Though Penix certainly doesn’t use his legs as often as other QB prospects in recent years, he has displayed a level of athleticism that allows him to maneuver around the pocket and pick up yards with his legs when protection breaks down.


Nov 19, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) passes against the Colorado Buffaloes during the second quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

While Penix can thrive as a pocket passer, problem arise when he is forced to make plays off schedule. He panics a bit under pressure, and accurate, smart passes turn into erratic decisions quickly when things break down around him.

This can be seen in the statistics. Penix attempted 107 passes while under pressure this season (again, per PFF), and he completed just 41.8% of them for 1072 yards, six TDs, and five interceptions. By comparison, Bo Nix completed 67.3%, J.J. McCarthy completed 63.4%, and Jayden Daniels completed an even 50%. Granted, the sample size with Penix is quite a bit larger due to Washington’s pass-heavy scheme, but he needs to get more accurate in these situations at the NFL level.

Finally, Penix’s injury history could play a pretty large role in NFL teams’ confidence in drafting him. He suffered season-ending injuries in each of his first four seasons, and while the past two years largely have seen Penix remain healthy, it’s hard to ignore the idea that he could become injury prone. In part because of these injuries, Penix is also one of the older QB prospects, turning 24 years old in May.

NFL Projection

Feb 1, 2024; Mobile, AL, USA; National quarterback Michael Penix Jr of Washington (9) talks with National quarterbacks coach Israel Woolfork of the Arizona Cardinals during practice for the National team at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
  • Draft Stock: Second Round
  • Immediate Role: Developmental QB with starting upside
  • NFL Comp: Will Levis
  • Vikings Draft Thermometer: 40

Of course, the Vikings could certainly be in the market for a quarterback this spring, particularly if they opt not to re-sign Kirk Cousins. Penix could serve as an immediate replacement in the starting QB role. However, if the Vikings bring back their veteran quarterback and simply want a player to develop, it might make more sense for Minnesota to target a younger prospect at the position.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via 247 SportsPro Football Focus and Sports Reference CFB.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.