Vikings Called Perfect Fit for Quarterback Prospect
The Minnesota Vikings enter a critical offseason in franchise history as they must decide on the quarterback position. Kirk Cousins is not under contract when the offseason begins for the first time since 2018. Do they extend his deal, draft his successor, or both? Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will make the call in just a few months.
Vikings Called Perfect Fit for Quarterback Prospect
It is a good year to identify a potential franchise quarterback with six guys in first-round contention. Caleb Williams is universally viewed as the next big thing, and Drake Maye perhaps would’ve been the top pick in many other draft classes. Heisman winner Jayden Daniels experienced college athletes Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr., and Michigan’s JJ McCarthy are also potential first-rounders.
Of those six prospects, there is a good chance one will be a Viking when May 1 rolls around, whether Adofo-Mensah trades up or picks the player that falls to him. The regime must attach itself to one of those young passers at some point, regardless of Cousins’ future.
According to Brent Soblenski from Bleacher Report, Penix should be Minnesota’s target.
There are four potential concerns about Michael Penix Jr., but the Minnesota Vikings should be able to overcome at least three of them.
Penix has already suffered two torn ACLs, so his medical evaluation at the NFL Scouting Combine will be critical. He also missed half of his second season with the Indiana Hoosiers because of a shoulder injury.
Whether he’s cleared or not may vary on a team-by-team basis based on what the doctors see regarding his long-term prognosis. But the Heisman Trophy finalist did play in 26 games over the last two seasons, with more to come during the College Football Playoff.Brent Soblenski
Indeed, previously injured quarterbacks are a risk as they cost a ton of draft capital, and when a passer gets hurt, it sets back the organization. However, he might come at a discount because of his history. The Vikes must decide if they want to take that gamble. Penix not missing a single contest since 2021 is an encouraging sign.
But Soblenski finds a trio of reasons why the purple team is the perfect fit for the prospect:
Second, Penix will turn 24 shortly after next year’s draft. Much like with Bo Nix, that can be viewed as a positive, particularly in this situation. With Kirk Cousins set to enter free agency and Joshua Dobbs benched, Minnesota doesn’t have a ready-made solution behind center. A more experienced signal-caller may be able to step in and claim the job sooner than later.
From an evaluation standpoint, the first major issue is how poorly Penix handles pressure. He’s a completely different quarterback when the pocket is muddied. Fortunately, he’s played behind a great Huskies offensive line. The Vikings don’t have a top-tier front five, but it’s a talented group that will remain intact into next season.
Finally, the quarterback’s touch can be erratic based on poor mechanics. Too often, Penix can be seen throwing off his back foot, which creates less variability in the throws he makes. Fortunately, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is a former NFL quarterback, personal quarterback coach, NFL quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. The head coach also calles the plays in Minnesota. He can build a scheme around an incoming rookie and potentially mask any weaknesses.
Having O’Connell as a mentor and an explosive receiving corps can mask a bunch of issues of a QB. In addition to that, an older but more experienced quarterback could be ready earlier than a 21-year-old.
But despite all those mentioned problems and concerns, Penix is an intriguing prospect. He led one of the most dynamic college offenses in the last two seasons, lighting up defenses in 26 games with Washington, as Soblenski noted:
When Penix is operating at peak efficiency, he can distribute the ball well. In a much better offensive scheme with a good supporting cast as part of the Huskies program, the quarterback posted 8,859 passing yards and a 64-to-17 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last two seasons.
Penix offers fantastic timing and rhythm in the passing game and has a deep understanding of defenses and offensive schemes. His accuracy is excellent when he has the correct footwork and can make big-time throws.
While he is not a statue, he prefers to play from his pocket and use his arm to find the playmakers, something the Vikings need, as they have proven during the Joshua Dobbs experiment. The potential of Penix behind a decent offense line distributing the ball to Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison in O’Connell’s offensive scheme is exciting. The Vikings are an unusually good team looking for a QB in the draft with weapons and an offensive mind in place.
Like most players coming out of college, Penix is a player with flaws and some interesting skills. He has the talent to take over as the team’s franchise quarterback, but he brings some risk.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt