All Eyes on Michael Penix Jr: Washington star gives Patriots an intriguing secondary option

Are the Patriots real about the possibility of Michael Penix Jr.?
NFL Combine - Michael Penix Jr
NFL Combine - Michael Penix Jr / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

In the quest for their next franchise quarterback, the New England Patriots are doing their homework ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft and it goes beyond the top 4 quarterback prospects.

With the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, the Patriots are sitting as favorites to land either UNC’s Drake Maye or LSU’s Jayden Daniels.  There is also talk about Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy with the No. 3 overall pick.  All potential picks were brought into Foxborough on a Top 30 visit.  But one name that strike intrigue is Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

A projected Day 2 pick, the Patriots getting a closer look at the 2023 Heisman Trophy runner up opens the door for perhaps the team either looking at trading back or taking another position at No. 3 and using their No. 34 pick on a QB like Penix Jr. or Oregon’s Bo Nix.

New England Patriots exploring all top quarterback possibilities prior to the 2024 NFL Draft

Obviously, this could be Patriots front office leader Eliot Wolf and new head coach Jerod Mayo just exploring all potential avenues for a team with many needs.  Although Penix Jr is no slouch, what should Patriots fans make of the team visiting with a projected second pick at the QB position?

Patriots insiders Phil Perry and Tom E. Curran discussed what the team may be up to during Monday’s Early Edition on NBC Sports Boston.

"Really interesting, because he's not in that class in terms of being a high-end first-round pick. That's not how he's considered by the league," Perry said. "And so, now they're broadening their search, and I wonder if they're broadening it because there might be some of that same disagreement, lack of consensus, that Tom and I had off the very top of the show on J.J. McCarthy.

"If they think, 'The best thing for us if we can't get settled on one guy at three overall, if we do end up trading back, now we're open to the second tier of quarterbacks whether it's Michael Penix or Bo Nix, or maybe even further down the line Spencer Rattler, people like that.'"

Perry went on to talk about Penix’s upside as a left-handed quarterback with a big arm, but some past injury concerns that does have NFL teams weary of drafting him in the first round.  Curran agrees with the upside and like McCarthy, believes the Wolf and Eliot are intrigued by Penix’s toughness.  The idea of trading down and gaining more draft capital is intriguing because the Patriots can address other needs and still draft a talent like Penix.

“In many mays, the Patriots should not be able to go wrong in this draft,” Curran added.  “They could screw it up after the player gets here, but the player they select is going to be worthy of being an NFL starting quarterback.”

During his final season at Washington, Penix Jr. passed for 4,903 yards with 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Those were lofty numbers as he had one of the top wide receiver prospects to throw to in Rome Odunze.  If the Patriots were to trade back let’s say in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings for No. 11 and No. 23 overall, that sets up a scenario where they could potentially draft Odunze, grab a tackle with No. 23 and select Penix Jr.

The Patriots could potentially take care of their top 3 needs all in the first 35 picks of the 2024 NFL Draft.