Can Michael Penix Become a Legit First Round Prospect?

Michael Penix, NFL Draft

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 02: Michael Penix Jr #9 of the Indiana Hoosiers runs with the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats at Memorial Stadium on November 02, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Can Indiana QB Michael Penix become a first-round prospect?

After missing most of his true freshman campaign due to an ACL injury, Indiana quarterback Michael Penix returned in the 2019-2020 season and beat out Peyton Ramsey for the starting job. Unfortunately, the season would yield the same results as Penix would miss half the season again due to injury.

The left-handed quarterback only appeared in six games, but started all of them and had some impressive performances. One of which was a 286 yard, three-touchdown game in a losing effort to Michigan State. In that game, Penix went 33 for 42 for a completion percentage of 78.6 percent. He was able to make some downfield throws to move his offense at will verse the Spartans defense.

This was the story most of the season for Penix. He was able to showcase to scouts his arm strength, accuracy, and high quarterback IQ. On only 165 dropbacks, Penix would earn an 83.5 passing grade according to PFF. Which would have been good for the 18th-ranked QB in the FBS.

He also executed a big-time throw rate that would have ranked 15th in the nation. One of which included this dime against Ball State.

In the same Michigan State game, Penix was also able to add a rushing touchdown which could be one of his most underrated abilities. He only rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns, but that doesn’t tell the true story of his mobility.

The southpaw uses his outstanding awareness to navigate the pocket and knows when to take off when the pocket collapses. He doesn’t always run to pick up yards but does an outstanding job to extend the play and let his receivers get open. Penix also does a nice job of knowing when to throw the ball away and not force bad throws, which could lead to interceptions.

When Penix is able to play for the Hoosiers, he is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the Big Ten. However, that is a big if. Penix has had two major injuries in back-to-back seasons.

First was the ACL injury, and then this year Penix missed time due to a shoulder injury on his non-throwing arm which would require surgery. He has missed a combined 16 games out of 25.  His injury history could end up being a red flag for some NFL scouts.

The former three-star recruit stands at 6’3″, but is only 202 pounds. Even though he has the prototypical height for a QB, Penix has a very thin, and lengthy frame which could be a key factor in his injury history. Still, at only 20 years old, Penix has time to add more muscle to his body. This will help him be able to step up in the pocket and take those brutal hits without getting hurt.

Michael Penix ended his 2020 season with 1,394 yards, 13 total touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. He also was able to complete 68.8 percent of his throws, which would have placed him at second-best in the Big Ten. If Penix can come back stronger from injury, and duplicate those types of numbers in an extended season for him.

Next: 2021 NFL mock draft update

Then, he has a chance of breaking into the first round of the NFL draft. He would also be the Hoosiers first 1st round pick since 1994 when the Giants selected wide receiver Thomas Lewis 24th overall.

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