Raiders a ‘Favorite’ for Record-Setting Deep-Ball QB: ESPN Analyst

Raiders potential draftee Michael Penix Jr.

Getty Raiders potential draftee Michael Penix Jr.

As we get farther from free agency and closer to the NFL draft, the Raiders’ murky quarterback picture is coming into clearer focus. They accomplished what they wanted with a “bridge” option in veteran Gardner Minshew, and still have incumbent Aidan O’Connell on hand to compete for the job. But clearly, the Raiders intend to add a high-upside rookie to the mix.

The dream scenario is a trade up in the Top 3 for Jayden Daniels, which is a possibility but a long shot. They’ve had Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix in for visits, and each is a viable option either as a second-rounder or as a player the Raiders would trade back to pick.

For ESPN NFL analyst Mina Kimes, Penix as a Raider—potentially as a Week 1 starter—just makes sense.

“I really like the idea of Michael Penix Jr. on the Las Vegas Raiders, for a few reasons,” Kimes said on NFL Live this week. “For him, it doesn’t make sense to me to draft him and then sit him for a couple of years, not just because he is an older prospect but because he is the kind of player who has played a lot of football and can come in and compete immediately. That’s what the Las Vegas Raiders in their current quarterback room—Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew—need. Someone who can come in and compete for that starting job.”

Michael Penix Jr. Set Passing Records at Washington

Penix certainly has the credentials. He was outstanding last season, not only leading the nation in passing (4,903 yards in 15 games) but doing so by nearly 400 yards over No. 2 on the list, Oregon’s Nix. He was third in all of college football with 36 touchdowns. He set the Huskies’ school passing record each of the last two years.

Penix is not certain to be a first-round pick because he has a long injury history.

Thanks to adjusted Covid-19 rules, he was a sixth-year senior last year, having transferred from Indiana for his final two years of eligibility, and has twice required season-ending surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee, in 2018 and 2020. He also has twice had his season shortened because of shoulder injuries.

Penix turns 24 in May, another drawback. At the same time, he could arrive in the NFL ready to play.

A Good Fit With Raiders Style

There is a lot to like about Penix, though, especially for those who know Raiders history. He is classic Al Davis quarterback, a downfield gambler who not only has the strength to get the ball down the field but has the accuracy, too. He’s not a very good underneath passer, but he can wing it deep.

Penix could be a key to getting the most out of the Raiders’ wide receiver crew of Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers and speedy second-year man Tre Tucker.

Kimes acknowledged that Penix is not a big runner, but he is a very good scrambler. And there’s the deep-ball thing: “I think it’s a good personnel fit, too. The offensive line is not the strength of the team. But Michael Penix Jr. actually has the lowest pressure-to-sack rate of any of the top prospects in football. Not the most mobile, but a lot of that was because he has a quick release, can make throws from unconventional arm angles.

“When you look at this Raiders receivers corps, Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, is eerily similar to the receivers at Washington, with Adams being Rome Odunze and Meyers being JayLinn Polk underneath. It’s just easy for me to imagine him throwing back-shoulder fades to Davante Adams because we have proof of concept.”

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