Vikings Rookie QB Target Climbs Back up Draftboard

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If you ruled out Michael Penix Jr. entirely as a possibility as the Minnesota Vikings’ next quarterback, it’s time to pump the brakes on the theory.

Vikings Rookie QB Target Climbs Back up Draftboard

After a marvelous Pro Day last week, Penix Jr. is “back” on the NFL’s draft radar — so much so that the rookie passer could fly off the board in the first half of Round 1.

Vikings Rookie QB
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Thursday, “It’s been a big week for Michael Penix Jr. I would say at this point he’s a likely 1st-Round pick and likely to go in the first half of the 1st Round.”

Had this quip hit the airwaves in early January, no one would’ve batted an eye. But that was before the Washington Huskies lost to the Michigan Wolverines in the National Championship, sending Penix Jr.’s draft stock south because his performance in the game sputtered.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy later took over frontrunner status to become the Vikings’ next quarterback. And after the Vikings’ splashy trade with the Houston Texans 2.5 weeks ago, most of the team’s fans settled on a Top 5 quarterback prospect as the probable outcome in the draft, putting all things Penix Jr. on the backburner.

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Yet, if Penix Jr. is back in the mix as a Top 16 pick, he cannot be ruled out as a Vikings’ option.

In fact, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz tweeted Monday, “Things are heating up for Washington QB Michael Penix Jr: Sources say he had dinner with the Giants in Seattle after his Pro Day, followed by a private workout with the Vikings in Seattle. Penix will have top 30s with the Broncos, Falcons, Raiders and Commanders, per multiple sources.”

Penix Jr. produced a tremendous Pro Day last week, recording a 4.45-second forty-yard dash and a splendid throwing session. Before the event, the Husky was theorized a late-1st-Round pick, with some pundits even tossing him into Round 2. It may be time to reign in those theories, at least per Rapoport.

Need in 2024
Image Courtesy of Cody Lauer | The 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Missouri. The Vikings drafted six players during the event, from WR Jordan Addison to RB DeWayne McBride

There’s also the matter of injury(ies) regarding Penix Jr. He’s played two healthy seasons consecutively, but before that, the injury list was expansive.

In 2018, he tore his ACL. A year later, his season was cut short by a sternoclavicular joint ailment. Then in 2020, he tore the other ACL. And in 2021, an AC joint injury ended his campaign. Optimists will maintain that the last two seasons are a reasonable indicator that Penix Jr. is “good to go” in the NFL. All the injuries be damned: some NFL team will convince itself that he is the way, and then we shall see if the injuries arrive akin to 2018 through 2021.

The optimistic part about Penix Jr. in purple? Minnesota probably won’t need to trade up the board for him, instead hanging on to its No. 11 and 23 picks while not leveraging future draft capital. More capital will be needed to land Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy.

The other sweet part is Vikings fans don’t have to wait long for a verdict. The draft is precisely three weeks away.

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).

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