Surprising Quarterback Draft Target Emerges for Patriots

The Patriots will host Michael Penix Jr. on Monday.
Jan 30, 2024; Mobile, AL, USA; National quarterback Michael Penix Jr. of Washington (9) throws the
Jan 30, 2024; Mobile, AL, USA; National quarterback Michael Penix Jr. of Washington (9) throws the / Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

With the endless discussions surrounding the future of the New England Patriots at quarterback in the upcoming NFL Draft, one new name has entered the fold.

Per Ian Rapoport, Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is meeting with the Patriots on Monday night in Foxborough and has a "Top 30" visit tomorrow with the team. Top 30 visits allow New England to conduct meetings, interviews, and a physical with Penix.

The physical is an interesting component, as Penix' injury history has been raised as a concern. Each of his first four college seasons ended prematurely due to injuries, including two torn ACLs and two shoulder injuries. If Penix comes back with a clean bill of health, more teams might feel comfortable identifying him as their potential quarterback of the future.

Penix was not among the three quarterbacks that New England interviewed earlier this offseason at the NFL Combine, and as J.J. McCarthy's name has picked up steam in connection with the Patriots, Penix' has been absent. New England also only sent Camren Williams, director of college scouting, to his pro day. Washington's pro day was scheduled for the same day as North Carolina's, with nearly the entirety of the Patriots brass prioritizing Drake Maye's pro day at UNC.

The lefty is coming off a prolific season in which he led all of college football with 4,903 yards, while tossing 36 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. His standout season was recognized as a first-team All-American, he was honored with the Maxwell Award, and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Penix, along with Oregon signal caller Bo Nix, are the "veterans" of this quarterback class. Nix turned 24 in February, while Penix turns 24 on May 8. Penix spent six years at the collegiate level, spending four years at Indiana before transferring to Washington, where he helped propel the Huskies to an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game this year.

Most projections have Penix going at the top of the second round, while Pro Football Focus has Penix as their sixth-ranked QB heading into the draft and 46th-best prospect overall.

If the Patriots are impressed by what they see out of Penix, then perhaps he is in play with the team's 34 overall pick. Does this mean they are entertaining a trade back? Who would they select with their first round pick then, if they aren't selecting a quarterback? This development raises a lot of questions.

Ultimately, this mostly feels like New England's braintrust doing their due diligence, as they should. Regardless, it is surprising given their relative lack of interest in Penix to this point.

As far as the betting markets go, DraftKings Sportsbook has New England ranked No. 7 in the odds to select Penix (as of writing, although these markets are subject to change very quickly, especially as draft day approaches).

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Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.