(Credit: Fox Sports)

Joel Klatt believes Michael Penix Jr. to be an “elite” quarterback.

And based on his performance in the Sugar Bowl, in which the 23-year-old completed 29 of 38 passes for 430 yards with two touchdowns in a 37-31 win over Texas, you’d have a hard time arguing with that point.

“I think he should be drafted in the top five, no doubt,” Klatt said of the Heisman runner-up during a Tuesday appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. “I think that the knee injuries will scare people off — and he might fall — but I don’t think he gets past 10. But what you see is directly comparable to what he needs to do at the National Football League level.”

The Fox Sports analyst highlighted Penix’s calmness, especially when the pocket collapsed.

“And even when he’s not ready to throw, he manipulates the pocket with ease to get himself in a position to make throws,” added Klatt. “And let me point out something else: there is a huge difference between guys who throw the ball well and guys who pass the football well. And Michael Penix is a passer; the difference is he understands leverage. In understanding leverage, you take a guy that’s accurate with the football, and when you watch all of these plays, what sticks out? The ball is always away from the defense. It’s like an entry pass in basketball to a postman — it’s always away from the defense.

“He’s always allowing his players the opportunity to make a play. He’s always allowing the odds in these wide receivers’ favor. It’s not a 50/50 ball. It’s a 60/40 ball, at worst. It’s a 70/30 ball. It’s a 90/10 ball. Why? Because he understands leverage. That’s passing the football. He takes it to another level, and he protects himself well with both timing and the manipulation of the pocket of being an athlete.”

Essentially, Klatt praised Penix as a master of “passing” the football, not just throwing it, by using leverage to give his receivers a significant advantage over defenders.

“This guy is an elite player. I think he upgrades 13 NFL teams next week,” Klatt confidently said. “And If I was drafting next spring, I would really look at this guy. And by the way, this whole narrative — and you know who you are if you pushed this — that the Heisman was done before the conference championship games, and it wasn’t a conversation between Jayden Daniels and Michael Penix, you should be ashamed of yourselves. It just means that you didn’t watch Washington football.

“Because Jayden Daniels, as incredible as his season was, did it against Grambling and Georgia State to the tune of 11 touchdowns. So, you can pad your stats on a three-loss team, or you can be undefeated and have to be the catalyst for your team, which he was. Michael Penix is an excellent player, and the fact that it wasn’t even a debate at the end for the Heisdman Trophy just shows that people don’t watch Washington football.”

Penix’s Sugar Bowl performance is just the beginning. With his talent, understanding of the game, and leadership, he has all the makings of a franchise quarterback in the NFL. It sounds like teams looking for a signal-caller to build around would be wise to listen to Klatt’s assessment and consider Penix in the upcoming draft.

[The Herd w/ Colin Cowherd]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.