Rams Named as 'Sleeper' Team To Draft Michael Penix Jr.

The Los Angeles Rams don't need a quarterback, but that might not stop them from taking one early in the NFL Draft. Is Washington's Michael Penix Jr. a fit?
NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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The Los Angeles Rams hold the 19th pick in April’s NFL Draft and with it hold a myriad of options. Breakouts from young players on the offense and a spending spree on defense have given the Rams the requisite flexibility to make a splash however they see fit.

It’s possible that means taking a quarterback with one of their first two selections. Quarterback Matthew Stafford isn’t getting any younger, and while it’s reasonable to object to spending premium assets on a backup, quarterbacks can make teams do funny things.

If the Rams fall in love with Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr., they may pull the trigger on the passer with their first-round pick.

Michael Penix
NFL Combine / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

On “The Pat McAfee Show,” Jordan Schultz spoke about the possibility of Los Angeles finding their heir.

“I think these three or four teams to watch out for Penix would be Seattle, Atlanta, potentially a sleeper would be the Rams,” Schultz said.

Penix helped bring the Huskies to the national championship, and he certainly has fans around the league. He’s one of the best vertical passers in the class, operates well within structure, and keeps the ball safe.

He seemingly boosted his stock at the Combine, too.

“He measured 6-foot-2 and change, he also measured a 6-foot-9 wingspan, and measured the biggest hand size of any non-lineman at the combine … Absolute monster hand-wise,” Schultz said. “And you go back to what Kalen DeBoer told me as head coach – who you know well – talked to him yesterday, said he was one of the single best leaders he’s ever seen in his life, regardless of sport.”

Penix has his warts. Off-platform, his arm talent drops off significantly, and he can’t survive with his legs the way many modern quarterbacks can. While Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa gets thrown around as a comparison too often because of their shared left-handed nature, struggles out of structure are another commonality between the two. 

He’ll also be a 24-year-old rookie and has a laundry list of season-ending injuries to his name, neither of which provide optimism in his development.

Even so, Penix can fling it and those leadership qualities matter to teams. Los Angeles isn’t looking for a headcase to take the mantle from the polished Stafford, and Penix by all accounts has the traits teams are looking for in the face of their franchise. With head coach Sean McVay calling the shots, fans can feel good about a prospective franchise quarterback.

While he’d be a better-process selection on the draft’s second day, gaining the rights to his fifth-year option and the fear of him landing elsewhere may force the Rams’ hand.

Anthony Licciardi