There has been a lot of hype around Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who has led Washington to an undefeated regular season, and has become a highly hyped player in the media as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Penix enters the Pac-12 Championship game having completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,899 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has also rushed for three scores. His production, along with Washington’s winning year, has produced some projections in the media of Penix being a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. However in speaking with sources at five teams, they all had Penix graded as a mid-rounder or second-day prospect.
“He might be a left-handed Hendon Hooker, but Hooker’s overall accuracy was better,” said an AFC director of player personnel. “I think he always will be an inconsistent passer. I think he’s a third-round player, but he might go second because quarterbacks always get over drafted.”
The common criticisms from team sources were Penix’s inaccuracy and inconsistency with ball placement. Some sources said they thought the back half of Penix’s season was not as good as his start and that he could be a system quarterback who might be more of a backup in the NFL. One general manager of an AFC team that could be looking to select a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft said their franchise had Penix graded as third-/fourth-round backup.
That being said, it only takes one team to fall in love and buck the consensus of the rest of the league to take Penix in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. There have been other quarterbacks who went in the first round who did not have consensus first-round grades with other teams. It still is very early in the process, with Penix having the opportunity to improve his standing at all-star games, the NFL Scouting Combine, his pro day, and during pre-draft visits. Heading into his final games, however, Penix has consensus second-day and mid-round projections for the 2024 NFL Draft.