Why Michael Penix Jr. Would Be a Risky Pick for Vikings

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If the Minnesota Vikings stay put in late April at the 11th overall pick, Michael Penix Jr. may perhaps be the likeliest draft target.

Why Michael Penix Jr. Would Be a Risky Pick for Vikings

He’ll probably be gettable sans a trade and produced an impressive college resume.

Would Be a Risky
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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.

Now, with his availability firmly in the Vikings’ grasp, the purple team’s fans should be familiar with Penix Jr.’s risk. Foremost, these are his measurables:

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 212 pounds
  • Arm Length: 33 5/8″
  • Hand Size: 10 3/8″
  • Wingspan: 81 3/8″
  • 40-Yard Dash: TBD
  • School: Indiana (2018-2021), Washington (2022-2023)
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Meanwhile, Minnesota has an almighty decision on Kirk Cousins in the next five weeks: 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.

Subtract Any
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Other prospects, however, like J.J. McCarthy or Drake Maye, provide youth. McCarthy is 21. So is Maye. Minnesota, in theory, would lose those years if Penix Jr. was the pick. So, Vikings fans must ponder: is a late start at the NFL level problematic?

Next and most important is injury history. 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.

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Yet, do the Vikings, a team desperately overdue to draft a franchise quarterback from the NFL Draft, want to attach their fate to an oft-injured quarterback? There’s always the chance he’s injured during his first year as a starter, and folks wonder or say aloud, “Well, we knew this was a thing going in.”

Last year, the Vikings signed outside linebacker Marcus Davenport, a free agent with a splotchy injury history. He later played four games in 2023, and the general complaint was, “We knew this man always got hurt, but we signed him anyway.”

How would Penix Jr. differ from the Davenport frustration?

Penix Jr. offers tremendous upside — his toolkit is fantastic — but his age and injury resume must be weighed. This is the formal warning.

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.