STANFORD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 28: Detail view of an Adidas wristband worn by Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies during a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 28: Detail view of an Adidas wristband worn by Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies during a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)

Dawg Mentality: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington Huskies

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First Round Mock’s William Yanish is standing on the sidelines with his grade on Washington Huskies’ quarterback, Michael Penix Jr.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 01: Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies celebrates after a 37-31 victory against the Texas Longhorns in the CFP Semifinal Allstate Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome on January 01, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Michael Penix Jr. is the star quarterback (QB) of the Washington Huskies, and he has been gaining in popularity this season (on an insane scale).

To put it into more perspective, currently over 50% of mainstream draft platforms have given Penix a first-round grade.

This includes Pro Football Focus, Draftwire, CBS, NBC Sports Chicago, Bleacher Report, The 33rd Team, Pro Football Network, Sporting News, Fox Sports, 247Sports, and Draft Kings.

Heck, even my editor and Scouting Director here at First Round Mock, Daniel Kelly, has a first-round grade on Penix.

And really what’s not to love about this Heisman Trophy runner-up this season?

The Huskies took the PAC-12 Championship with two victories over the Oregon Ducks, and now they have National Championship hopes after walking into the Cotton Bowl and taking down the No. 2 ranked Texas Longhorns 37-31.

Background

I must admit, his success this season is not something I saw coming on his previous game film. In my initial Penix report, the film spoke loudly (six games reviewed from 2021 and 2022). Not only did he show a scattergun bevy of throws but he also displayed an unorthodox torso-torquing throwing motion.

His injury history also kept playing on my mind (Penix suffered season-ending injuries in four straight seasons at Indiana before transferring to Washington).

In no more certain words, I did not feel that he could endure what was waiting for him on the other side of that NFL Shield.

However, different colleagues and fans urged me to look at his 2023 game film. The things that I saw were a bit different.

I had to go back to the film I previously graded him on, just to see if my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.

The footwork Penix was showing had improved a ton. He also didn’t put himself in such bad throwing positions. Yes, the erratic passes are still there as he simply does not throw well on the run. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW HIGH (especially near the end zone).

The big improvement ⎯the dime-dropping game.

The Yanish Report

Stands tall in the pocket. Has improved the little things. Very good awareness. Does not take many sacks. Less happy feet. Footwork has bounce and is well-timed. Snaps through progressions now. Slingshot-type throwing motion. Needs consistency while throwing from his base. Not afraid to cut it loose. Tight end trust. Laser passes. Excellent touch when needed. Errant throws need dampening. Ball placement compounds by distance. Spreads the ball around nicely. Gunslinger. Dawg mentality. Contentious. Leader.

For the win

Here’s the thing ⎯

You have to remember Penix is completing his sixth season in college football. His age and injury history does not just disappear. At one point, Penix revealed it was so bad that he almost quit football. That is something that no NFL GM wants to hear.

The risk versus the reward will have to be taken into account.

Penix put together everything that you look for in a starting NFL QB. He showed us he has the size, arm talent, and other next-level qualities that GMs are pondering.

The formula?

Talent is multiplied by how he has evolved and divided by his injury history. That is a pretty solid equation to explain what will happen between now and the draft.

No question, Penix put up the numbers and produced the game film this season. However, excellent game film is one thing; maintaining it is something completely different.

My BIG three questions

1. Will Washington pull off the upset versus Michigan for the National Championship?

2. Will the team that drafts him be in full rebuild mode, or will he have some good talent pieces to place around him?

3. What will the coming medical pre-draft evaluations say?

My 2024 NFL Draft Value: Third-Round

2023 Game Film Evidence (Jersey No. 9)

Boise State

Arizona

Oregon

Arizona State

USC

Utah

Oregon State

Oregon Pac-12 Championship

William Yanish III is a lifelong football fan. He’s from the little town of Crawford, Colorado. Along the way, he’s lived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and Brookings, Oregon. Quarterback Joe Montana was his idol growing up. A little bit of CTE from life’s adventures killed his dreams as a football player. Now, he is an aspiring writer and Draft Analyst at FirstRoundMock.com. He’s a fanatic with a dream, which is coming true.

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