Michael Penix Jr. Landing Spots: Top NFL Draft Rankings Fit Likely First Round Picks, Including Division Rivals


Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. is one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in this class. He’s not likely to go into the top 10, and going into the offseason it was unclear if he was a first-round lock. However, Penix possesses the one quality that can turn a good quarterback into a great quarterback: arm talent.

That arm talent and the number of quarterback-hungry teams appear to have propelled Penix not only as a first-round selection, but “probably as a top-half first-round pick,” according to a report from NFL Media. According to the report, he visited the Las Vegas Raiders (13th overall pick) on Wednesday and the Denver Broncos (12th overall pick) on Tuesday. The New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings have also visited Penix since his pro day.

Penix was named a first-team All-American last season after leading the Huskies to the College Football Playoff national championship game. While Washington fell to Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines, Penix had a strong 2023 campaign. He led the FBS in passing yards with 4,903, and led the FBS in completions (60) and touchdowns passing (26) for 25+ air yards over the past two seasons.

The former Indiana Hoosier was named one of the 2022 AP Comeback Player of the Year winners after throwing for 4,641 yards, 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. A knock against Penix as a prospect is his injury history, as he tore his right ACL twice and suffered a few shoulder injuries. On paper, that sounds scary, but Penix has clearly bounced back. He even became the first college quarterback to throw for 4,500 yards in consecutive seasons since Patrick Mahomes did it at Texas Tech.

So where will Penix land in the 2024 NFL Draft? Where would he be a good candidate? Let’s take a look at the five best potential landing spots for Penix. Those are his top five landing spots based on team fit and the likelihood that the team actually has the ability to draft him.

5. Los Angeles Rams (19th overall pick and 52nd overall pick)

The Los Angeles Rams successfully reset after their Super Bowl LVI championship. They rebuilt their offensive line through shrewd free agency signings (Kevin Dotson and Jonah Jackson) and through the draft (Steve Avila, 2023 second round), and they found their long-term replacement for Cooper Kupp at fifth. round of last year’s draft. to Puka Nacua, who set NFL rookie records for catches (105) and receiving yards (1,486).

Quarterback Matthew Stafford recovered well from a neck injury that caused him to miss eight games in 2022, and he earned the second Pro Bowl nod of his career in 2023 as Los Angeles came back in the playoffs. However, Stafford is 36 years old and has a history of injuries. Head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead would be wise to prepare for the future and bring in someone they could develop into a long-term replacement.

One of McVay’s former assistants, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, had great success doing this with his quarterback position by selecting Jordan Love in the first round despite the Packers having other positional needs at the time. If the Rams believe in Penix, he will likely be available to them at pick 19.

Should the Rams be cool about waiting for him and perhaps addressing their defensive line since future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald retired? They also own their second-round pick. However, waiting for pick 52 risks seeing him no longer appear on the board. Los Angeles may need to trade up in the second round to avoid missing him on day two.

4. Washington Commanders (2nd overall pick and 36th overall pick)

The Commanders will likely select their new quarterback second overall, and Washington should be an attractive landing spot for a young quarterback. Not only will this new player likely start right away, but a new owner gets this franchise back on track, and the Commanders have a whole new coaching staff. That includes Kliff Kingsbury as offensive coordinator.

No parade was held when Kingsbury, the former Arizona Cardinals head coach, was named the new OC, but perhaps fans should be optimistic. It looked like he had the Cards in a good position before things fell apart in 2022. He even had a top-10 offense in two of his first three seasons. Kingsbury has also worked with several notable young quarterbacks, such as Kyler Murray, Caleb Williams, Mahomes and Johnny Manziel. It didn’t work out in Arizona, but maybe Kingsbury could be a good NFL offensive coordinator — and be beneficial to a young quarterback.

The only way Washington can play for Penix is ​​to trade down with the No. 2 overall pick. If so, that could potentially select him later in the first round or among the top five picks in the second round.

For more coverage of the project, you can hear in-depth analysis twice a week on “With the first choice” — our year-round NFL Draft podcast with NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. You can find “With the First Pick” wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, etc. Listen below!

The Vikings are definitely looking for a new quarterback. Kirk Cousins ​​signed with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency, and Minnesota prepared to potentially trade for a new quarterback by acquiring an additional first-round pick through a trade with the Texans. Houston.

The Vikings parted ways with two second-round selections (one in 2024 and one in 2025) and a 2024 sixth-round pick to acquire the 23rd overall pick for the upcoming draft. While their initial plan may be to go in the top five to select a quarterback, if the Vikings don’t like the terms of a trade deal, there’s a chance they stay on place and end up with Penix at choice 23.

Whichever quarterback the Vikings end up with, he’ll immediately have the best supporting cast of any 2024 rookie: 2022 Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson, Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones, two-time Pro Bowl tight end TJ Hockenson and 2023 first-round wide receiver Jordan Addison.

“It was great”, Penix said during the NFL Scouting Combine when asked about his encounter with the Vikings. “I feel like it’s a good organization there. They show a lot of good things, they also have a lot of good players. I felt very confident in this meeting.”

It would personally be fun to see Penix’s ball fly 70 yards through the Mile High City air and see him work with Sean Payton. Payton never seemed comfortable running his offense through Russell Wilson, which is why the Broncos cut him even with the consequence of having to eat $85 million in dead money over the next two seasons combined.

Yes, Denver has to play Patrick Mahomes twice a year, but are the Broncos one quarterback away from the playoffs? It depends on how good this quarterback is. No one expected the Texans to be a playoff team in year one with CJ Stroud, and yet they won the AFC South. Denver has some weapons on offense (receivers Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims, Josh Reynolds, Tim Patrick and running back Javonte Williams). Meanwhile, Vance Joseph facilitated what was truly a miraculous turnaround on defense.

If Denver isn’t able to make the top five, they could potentially move back a few spots in the first round and then select Penix if they think pick 12 is a little too high. He clearly has an interest in playing for Payton.

“Oh man, that was an interesting meeting,” Penix said during the NFL Scouting Combine about his meeting with the Broncos. “It was different from the rest. I felt good. … Playing for coach Sean Payton, that would be special. He’s a great coach, one of the best in the game. To be able to learn from him would be special. … They were tough. [my] bad games. It’s good because at the next level, it’s hard. It’s difficult to win. I understand that. In a way, they were probably trying to see how I reacted to these bad plays. If I could take responsibility and things like that, I still would. I will always put others before myself. I’m going to be honest about everything.”

Becoming the next face of the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback franchise comes with the price of being able to throw to one of the league’s best wide receivers in three-time first-team All-Pro, Davante Adams. Sure, they have Gardner Minshew and 2023 fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell, but neither has inspired confidence that they can be more than backups on the bench.

Penix will certainly be available at pick 13, and if Las Vegas decides to trade for LSU’s Jayden Daniels, who has a pre-existing connection to head coach Antonio Pierce from their days at Arizona State together, Penix could be the consolation prize from Las Vegas. Like the Broncos, the Raiders could probably trade up a few spots and still find themselves a finalist for the 2023 Heisman Trophy.

“A lot of guys praise Coach A.P. [Antonio Pierce] and the things he is capable of doing”, Penix said during the NFL Scouting Combine of his meeting with the Raiders. “I got to see him and meet him, pretty cool guy.”


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