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Raiders’ QB options in 2024 draft: Is this prospect damaged goods?

Updated April 11, 2024 - 3:28 pm

Michael Penix Jr. is one of the draft’s largest mysteries.

No one knows where the quarterback prospect will be selected in April’s NFL draft. But none of the questions surrounding him are about his ability to throw a football.

Penix was ravaged by injuries during his collegiate career, which started at Indiana before a successful transfer to Washington. All four of his seasons with the Hoosiers were cut short. He had two ACL tears and joint issues in both shoulders.

Penix took off once he arrived in Seattle. He led the Huskies to the national championship game this year by zipping the ball all over the field.

Here’s a closer look at the fifth quarterback in the Review-Journal’s weeklong series examining the top prospects the Raiders are looking at:

2023 stats

Played 15 games and completed 65 percent of his passes for 4,903 yards while throwing 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Strengths

Penix is an effortless thrower.

He can place the ball anywhere on the field with touch and accuracy. Penix is at his best throwing downfield and outside the numbers, throws NFL quarterbacks need to be able to make.

He has also shown an elite ability to manage the pocket. Penix can slide away from pressure, reset his feet and fire downfield. That’s helped by his high level of awareness before the snap. Penix almost was never sacked in college despite not being much of a runner.

Weaknesses

Penix’s medical issues are a huge red flag, but it’s not the only concern teams have.

He will turn 24 less than two weeks after the draft. He’s the second-oldest quarterback among the draft’s top six prospects, behind Oregon’s Bo Nix.

Penix also brings little with his legs despite possessing good straight-line speed. He even struggles to throw on the move.

Other questions surround how much of Penix’s impressive production in college was due to an elite receiving corps at Washington, one that included Bishop Gorman product and possible top-10 pick Rome Odunze. Penix relied often on his pass catchers to make plays on 50/50 balls.

Why he fits the Raiders

The Raiders can give Penix strong receiving talent if that’s what he needs to succeed.

Wide receivers Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers and emerging tight end Michael Mayer are a solid group to start with.

Penix should be able to step in and run the offense right away if the Raiders want him to.

The team also shouldn’t have to trade up to get him. The Raiders may even be able to trade down in the first round and still take Penix.

Why he doesn’t fit

The Raiders want a franchise quarterback they can build around for the next decade.

Penix’s medical history makes him a risk in that regard. The organization would have to be confident in its internal evaluation to stake its future on him.

What they’re saying

“Penix has exceptional arm strength and toughness. He has a unique, whippy, three-quarters delivery from the left side and the ball explodes out of his hand. He can hang on his back foot and effortlessly drive the ball 55 yards. He excels driving throws outside and tosses a beautiful, lofting deep ball. He does have issues getting throws up and down in the middle of the field. His ball can stay flat. He is quick to process and consistently gets to No. 3 in the route progression. He’s been through a litany of injuries during his career, but he managed to overcome them and led Washington to the national title game. Overall, durability is a legitimate concern but I believe in his combination of vision, accuracy and arm strength.” — Daniel Jeremiah, NFL media draft analyst

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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