Heisman Finalist Named ‘Ideal’ Top Pick for Broncos in 2024 NFL Draft

George Paton

Getty Broncos general manager George Paton

All the draft projections have been endless and perhaps a tad insufferable for fans of the Denver Broncos this offseason.

Quarterback is a clear position of need for head coach Sean Payton. NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter has a top candidate for the Broncos with its No. 12 pick — and it’s surprisingly not Bo Nix.

Reuter named Heisman finalist and former Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. as one of two “ideal” top picks for Denver in the draft.

“I hesitate to put Penix in the first round because of his injury history, but the Broncos’ need for a quarterback makes it tough to pass him up,” Reuter wrote in his April 12 article. “Head coach Sean Payton could build a strong offensive line to protect Penix the same way he did for accurate pocket passer Drew Brees in New Orleans.”

Penix’s injury history is concerning and could push him out of the first round. The Washington product is a wild card, which should not scare Payton away.

Reuter’s colleague Bucky Brooks questioned whether Penix was a product of former Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer’s scheme. Ultimately, the analyst raved about the physical gifts of the 23-year-old QB.

“The deep-ball specialist has superb arm talent and instincts as a pocket passer,” Brooks wrote on April 12. “Penix carves up coverage with surgical precision, displaying pinpoint accuracy and ball placement on vertical throws. With Penix’s highlight reel loaded with bombs flying over the defense, teams looking for a gunslinger with an attack mentality will place the Washington standout near the top of the board.”

CBS Sports Mocked Penix to Denver in New 2024 Mock Draft

As the saying goes, great minds think alike, which was the case for Reuter and Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports.

Dajani mocked Penix to the Broncos with the No. 12 pick in his new 2024 mock draft.

“The Broncos find a new QB1 who can throw the ball a country mile — especially in that thin Denver air,” Dajani wrote in his April 13 mock draft. “The 2023 Heisman Trophy runner-up led the FBS in passing yards last season (4,903) and became the first player since Patrick Mahomes to record multiple seasons of 4,500 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns.”

Penix completed 65.4% of his passes for 9,544 yards and 67 touchdown passes in 27 games at Washington from 2022-23.

He appeared in 48 games throughout his collegiate career with the Huskies and Indiana Hoosiers. The Washington product’s experience and passing prowess will make him an attractive option wherever he lands.

FCS Pass Rusher Also Considered an ‘Ideal’ Pick Alongside Penix

Penix was not the only player considered an “ideal” top pick for the Broncos in the 2024 NFL draft.

Reuter listed Houston Christian edge rusher Jalyx Hunt as an option for Denver with the No. 76 overall pick.

“Hunt has grown from a safety at Cornell to a force on the edge, making 20.5 tackles for loss with 13.5 sacks for the Huskies over his last two seasons. His length (34 3/8-inch arms) and speed (4.64 40) make him a solid third-round pick for the pass rush-needy Broncos,” Reuter wrote.

Hunt was a Second-team All-Southland selection at Houston Christian of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

The pass rusher became the first player from the school ever chosen to participate in the Senior Bowl. He was among four FCS players to receive an invite to the 2024 Senior Bowl.