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Is Michael Bennix Jr. as good as he’s gone? Husky QB star draft decision evaluation looms

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Is Michael Bennix Jr. as good as he’s gone?

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That might sound like sentiment, given that UW’s power lefty leads the nation in passing (3,640 yards) and set single-game records for passing yards (516) and completions (36, twice) in Seattle’s dominant debut season. The redshirt youngster cemented his homegrown legacy this past weekend as well, throwing for 408 yards and two touchdowns in a then-37-34 win. 6 Oregon.

As games against Colorado and Washington State continued, Penix completed 67.1% of his passes and totaled 27 touchdowns and six interceptions.

But will the redshirt junior – who has one season left in eligibility – capitalize on his promotion to enter the 2023 NFL Draft?

“I’m caught up in the present and what I can do this week to help this team beat Colorado,” Bennix said Tuesday, adopting a politically slick approach. “So I really didn’t think about it. I just got locked into this team. After the season, you’re going to ask me those thoughts and those questions.”

On a personal level, these questions are already being asked — and answered. “There are definitely conversations that I or the coaches have (as players consider declaring for the draft) as the season goes on,” UW coach Kalen DeBoer said Monday. year, and we have different moments throughout the year where we educate audiences, and then we narrow it down to help (potential early entrants) the scope of what’s going on.

“It’s too late, I think, if you wait until the whole season is over, because people will be all over these guys trying to figure out what they’re doing.”

As far as Penix is ​​concerned, this plot represents a stark contrast to the dwindling quarterback stock of the previous summer. The 6-foot-3, 213-pounder forward threw just four touchdown passes and seven interceptions in five games at Indiana in 2021, before a separated shoulder prematurely ended his season.

“It’s forcing scouts to re-evaluate their previous opinions, because he didn’t have a buzz over the summer,” NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler told The Athletic. “He wasn’t really considered a renewable player for Indiana. Then you factor in medical factors, which is still an unknown variable at this point. What are the long-term concerns? Those are all things that are being worked on in combination.

But concentrating only on what he put on the tape in Washington, the tape shows a draftable player, no doubt. Above average speed in his throws, he has no trouble getting throws out of the far hash. I really like what he does on the go — sprints, any kind. From the backhand. He’s not a top-tier athlete, but he’s got enough movement. He can scramble for sticks. He’s a good sized player, hit 6-2 and a quarter, 216 pounds. There are a few things working against him. His mechanics aren’t perfect. He’s He’s got a long delivery. He’s guilty of overtaking, not following through, or not driving through his hips. But what he does work for him.”

In November. 3, Penix is ​​listed at number 10 On the big board for ESPN draft analyst Mel Kepper Jr. 2023 – behind No. 1 C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), No. 2 Will Levis (Kentucky), No. 3 Bryce Young (Alabama), No. 4 Anthony Richardson (Florida), No. 5 Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), No. 6 Bo Nix (Oregon), No. 7 Jaren Hall (BYU), No. 8 Max Dugan (TCU) and No. 9 Jaden Daniels (LSU). Stroud, Levis and Young are among the consensus top 10 picks.

But Penix’s inventory may also be limited by its hit history. The Tampa Indiana product’s four seasons ended with injury—a torn ACL in 2018 and 2020, an injury to the sternoclavicular joint (which connects the collarbone to the sternum) in 2019, and a shoulder issue at the AC joint in 2021. Bennex completed 59.4% of his passes and threw For 4,197 yards with 35 total touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 20 games at Indiana.

His best football, to date, was played this fall.

But could Penix’s injury issues provide more incentive to announce for the draft – given the instability of his rising success?

“With the medical situation, no one knows better than him that you never know when your next hit could be,” Bruegler said. “With what he’s been through and all the times he’s worked after those injuries, it’s a personal decision. You can understand either way. You can understand if, when you see the talent in this team, he says, ‘I can come back and we can fight for the Pac title.'” -12. I can get better in the process. More reps is exactly what I need.

But at the same time, if he says, ‘My time is now. You’ve set up a really strong championship for 2022. You’ve set a really good bar out there. With the injury case, now’s the time to go, “You can file a case either way. And with no NIL, it makes those decisions tougher. Because it’s not strictly a financial issue.”

In the NIL era, can the Montlake Futures – a donor-led UW group – provide enough opportunities to entice the Huskies’ quarterback to stay? The fan base definitely understands Penix’s importance to an offense that leads the nation in passing (374 yards per game) and completions of 10 yards or more (154) and ranks third in first down conversions (54.68%), fourth in first downs (27 per game), Fifth in pass attempts (43.9 per game), 13The tenth in scoring (38.4 points per game) and 15The tenth in passing touchdowns (25) and yards per game (6.7).

What sets Benneks apart, left guard Jackson Kirkland said Tuesday, is his “preparations and detail. It’s very rare for a guy to make a mistake when it comes to the X and O on offense. As soon as we get out to practice in the morning call him up. He’s already ready to go for the week.” He’s never, ‘Dang, I’m going to get it right. ‘ No, he’s really willing to practice, limits his mistakes and is very consistent.”

Penix’s consistency paid dividends at UW this fall.

Time will tell if this is the case.

“I really like the veteran awareness that he shows,” Bruegler said. “He does a really great job of identifying weak match points beforehand. He knows where the blitz is coming from. It’s a spread offense, so I think that really stretches the defense, when you have a mobile midfielder with his experience, with his arm talent. So you want to see him continue.” Improve decision making and accuracy throughout the year.

“But there’s no question he’s been impressive and has put himself in a position to force scouts to re-evaluate. He’s on a draft path now, as long as the doctors are okay.”

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