Draft Darling for Minnesota Reemerges after Combine

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He was all but forgotten or at least slated as an after-the-fact plan for the Minnesota Vikings, possibly a 2nd-Rounder.

Draft Darling for Minnesota Reemerges after Combine

But then Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. re-arrived on the draft scene last week, one of the profiteers at the 2024 NFL Combine. After his Huskies lost the National Championship to the Michigan Wolverines in January — and Penix Jr. didn’t play well at all — the young passer fell by the wayside as a viable plan for the Vikings’ quarterback plans.

Minnesota Reemerges
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Now, though, he may be on his way back. Penix Jr. personally met with Vikings brass, head coach Kevin O’Connell and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown, and said about the discussion, “It was great. I feel like that’s a good organization over there. They show a lot of good things, got a lot of good players as well. I felt very confident in that meeting.”

Minnesota, too, met with the other quarterbacks connected to the top part of the upcoming draft, including Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), and J.J. McCarthy (Michigan). McCarthy also spoke highly of the Vikings’ representation at the Combine.

dead period
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

Near the end of the college football season, Penix Jr. dazzled in the Championship Semifinal and wholly flopped in the National Championship. Had Washington, his alma mater, won the chip, Penix Jr.’s stock could’ve climbed into the Top 10. No such luck.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has an almighty decision on Kirk Cousins next week: let the man walk to open free agency or re-sign him for a year or two after recovering from a torn Achilles. If Cousins is re-signed and Penix Jr. joins at No. 11, he’d likely face a bench or watch-and-learn assignment for one or two years.

That’s Penix Jr.’s first problem — age. He’ll turn 24 in May, and by the time the Vikings use him as the QB1, the man could be 26 years old, heading to 27 for his second season as a starter. For many, this is a non-issue. Several Vikings loyalists had no problem with Hendon Hooker’s draft profile last year, and he’s even older than Penix Jr. If the age doesn’t scare folks away, he also has a lengthy injury history, though Penix Jr. received a clean bill of health at the Combine.

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Josh Frey of PurplePTSD.com, a sister site to VikingsTerritory, wrote about Penix Jr. last week, “When Penix is able to stand and the pocket and throw, he is a very talented passer. He puts plenty of velocity on his throws, which allows him to fit passes into tight windows and push the ball downfield. He can go through his progressions well and reads coverages very well.”

Drafting Penix Jr. won’t cost the Vikings a ginormous trade up the draftboard; he’ll probably be available at pick No. 11 or perhaps slide into Round 2. As Vikings fans became enamored with his draft counterpart, McCarthy, in the last few weeks, he had become a forgotten man.

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Yet, based on his impressive measurables like hand size and wing span, plus his impressive performance in Indianapolis, Penix Jr. should be considered a realistic option for the Vikings’ quarterback selection.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.