Michael Penix Jr. scouting report coming at you right now.
Michael Penix Jr. led Indiana to a surprisingly strong season last year where the Hoosiers were 4-1 with Penix as a starter before his season was cut short by an ACL tear. Making it even more impressive is that lone loss was to Ohio State in a game where Penix threw five touchdowns. There was some very good in his 2020 season and some not so good, but I took a look at that aforementioned Buckeyes game to see what Big Ten defenses and NFL scouts need to watch for in this upcoming season.
The big concern I had with Penix was him completing just 56% of his passes. But, considering he was at 68% the year before, I don’t think this is a major issue, especially considering this is what some incompletions look like.
You can’t throw a ball much better than that, but you also really can’t play much better defense than that. This was a common theme in his game against Ohio State where he was very accurate, and either great defense or simple drops cost him.
On top of that, he really did a great job of leading his receivers on short and intermediate routes which helped them get the maximum amount of YAC on every opportunity. He also showed he can launch it when necessary.
He threw a few deep balls in this game, and they were almost all money. The one above was nearly perfect, he also had a 40-yard touchdown, and one that just barely went off his receiver’s fingertips.
He faced a ton of pressure against Ohio State, and it definitely caused him some issues. He was sacked, forced into some inaccurate throws, and also had a decent amount of balls batted down at the line. Despite all that, it was impressive in how willing he was to stay in a tight pocket and deliver throws.
Although this report has been glowing so far, there was an issue that I saw with Penix, and it was one that has plagued many great college quarterbacks.
The big issue is arm strength. I call this a Rick-Six, in honor of Iowa (and America) great, Ricky Stanzi who threw a lot of Pick-6s on out routes where he just didn’t have quite the cannon to be able to get the ball to the outside without the corner cutting the angle on it. If his receiver has space, and he can throw it over the middle of the field, he places the ball beautifully, but fitting it into tight spaces is not his strength, It’s something he’ll get away with for the most part at the college level, but it puts a rather low ceiling on his NFL expectations.
Overall, I really like Michael Penix Jr. as a college quarterback. My alma mater, the Iowa Hawkeyes, play him in week one, and I don’t love what he brings to the table when it comes to Iowa’s chances of winning the game. It should be an interesting challenge for Penix as Iowa has a great back half of the defense and a very inexperienced front four who likely won’t be able to cause him anywhere near the distress that he had against Ohio State. He’s not a franchise QB, but I think he’s worthy of a late round pick as he reminds me of Kellen Moore coming out of college.
Also, if you’re looking for some sexier draft expectations, here’s a bonus nugget: Ty Fryfogle is really good.