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Michael Penix

Penix enters draft as an older prospect

I will be interested to see if a team pulls the trigger on Michael Penix in the first round. He’s an older rookie who’s had some injuries, but he’s really accurate on downfield throws.

In two years at Washington, Penix threw 67 touchdowns versus only 19 interceptions, and with just 16 sacks – he’s good at decisively figuring out where to go with the ball.

Penix has a lean build, with modest mobility and got hurt in all four of his seasons at Indiana (including two torn ACLs). No getting around there. But he played in all 28 games with no issues in his two seasons in the Pac-12. With the way the rules of the game have changed (limiting the ability to hit the quarterback), I don’t see him as a big injury risk. I have more worries, for example, about Tua Tagovailoa’s ability to stay on the field.

Penix spent six years playing college ball. He’ll be 24 in May, which is seen by some as a negative – that he has less career left in front of him and perhaps less upside. The same concerns apply to Bo Nix, who played five years of college ball and is already 24.

But I don’t put much stock in the older quarterback theory. If Nix and Penix develop into viable NFL starters, they’ll be successful picks – I don’t care much whether their pro careers end in 2038 or 2039. Like Brock Purdy, both of these guys have played a lot of college ball, probably giving them a better chance of playing decently early.

On the age front, I played around with the numbers some. I don’t see anything suggesting we should be staying away from older draft prospects (at quarterback, at least; age becomes more significant at running backs, where we see guys declining in their late 20s).

Below are the 43 quarterbacks who’ve put together a top-5 season (using standard scoring) in the 32-team era. I’ve got them ordered by total fantasy points (including rushing stats, though they aren’t listed in the table). In the chart below, you’re seeing the best season of each of those 43. The “age” column shows not the players’ ages in those seasons, but the ages when they entered the league.

Six of the 43 quarterbacks (like Nix & Penix) were 24 in their first season. I’ve got those old guys in bold. Five of the 43 were only 21; I’ve got those young guys tagged with black dots. (J.J. McCarthy and Drake Maye, by the way, are both 21 years old; Caleb Williams is 22.)

In the chart below, 16 quarterbacks were 22 years old at the end of their rookie season, while 16 were 23.

The Seahawks pick 16th in the first round. That looks like a pivotal spot for Penix. Seattle hired Ryan Grubb to take over at offensive coordinator, and he knows more about Penix than anybody, having worked closely with him at the University of Washington the last two years. If Grubb is confident Penix can be a big-time quarterback, I would think there’s a good chance he goes there. (Conversely, if the Seahawks pass on Penix at 16, that might scare off some other teams.)

Age, in my opinion, shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether to select Nix and Penix.

2013Peyton Manning, Den.1225,47755498.81
2018Patrick Mahomes, K.C.1225,09750496.11
2021Josh Allen, Buff.1224,40736482.71
2011Drew Brees, N.O.2225,47646478.41
2019• Lamar Jackson, Balt.1213,12736463.01
2021Justin Herbert, LAC1225,01438462.92
2007Tom Brady, N.E.6234,80650462.11
2015Cam Newton, Car.1223,83735455.51
2020Kyler Murray, Ari.1223,97126450.52
2004Daunte Culpepper, Min.1224,71739450.51
2016Aaron Rodgers, G.B.1224,42840446.31
2014Andrew Luck, Ind.1234,76140443.41
2023Jalen Hurts, Phil.2223,85823435.42
2018Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.1225,12934429.22
2018Matt Ryan, Atl.1234,92435428.23
2019• Jameis Winston, T.B.1215,10933426.52
2022Joe Burrow, Cin.1244,47535425.54
2017Russell Wilson, Sea.3243,98334415.81
2019Dak Prescott, Dall.4234,90230412.83
2015Blake Bortles, Jac.1224,42835406.43
2019Deshaun Watson, Hou.1223,85226389.54
2023Jordan Love, G.B.1224,15932388.75
2007Tony Romo, Dall.FA234,21136379.52
2013Andy Dalton, Cin.2244,29333377.03
2022Geno Smith, Sea.2234,28230376.75
2002Rich Gannon, Oak.4224,68926376.12
2013• Matthew Stafford, Det.1214,65029371.44
2010Philip Rivers, S.D.1234,71030362.74
2008Jay Cutler, Den.1234,52625362.33
2009Matt Schaub, Hou.3234,77029362.23
2004Donovan McNabb, Phil.1233,87531357.83
2017Kirk Cousins, Was.4244,09327354.64
2008Kurt Warner, Ari.FA234,58330351.04
2004Trent Green, K.C.8234,59127348.14
2004Jake Plummer, Den.2234,08927338.75
2002• Michael Vick, Atl.1212,93616338.14
2002• Drew Bledsoe, Buff.1214,35924332.75
2007Derek Anderson, Cle.6223,78729332.45
2005Carson Palmer, Cin.1243,83632331.91
2006Jon Kitna, Det.FA244,20821322.03
2003Matt Hasselbeck, Sea.6233,84126320.63
2006Marc Bulger, St.L.6234,30124317.55
2005Eli Manning, NYG1233,76224300.14

—Ian Allan

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