Sleeper QB becoming more realistic for Broncos in 1st round

Could a new favorite be emerging at #12 overall?

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos need to find a way to come out of the 2024 NFL Draft with a contender to start at the quarterback position in 2024. It seems as though a sleeper option could be emerging for the team with the 12th overall pick.

That sleeper is Washington quarterback and Heisman candidate Michael Penix Jr., who has recently been gaining some steam thanks to his incredible pro day workout in which he posted a 36.5-inch vertical jump and a 40-yard dash around 4.5.

But it's not his 40 time that has me thinking Penix is gaining some steam as a target for the Broncos at 12 (not in a trade down scenario). It's actually a report from NFL Network's top insider Ian Rapoport

In this segment, Rap Sheet has the following to say about Michael Penix Jr.:

"...Michael Penix Jr., Washington quarterback who, I would say is pretty likely at this point to be a first-round pick, likely in the first half of the first round."

Ian Rapoport

Penix has spent time with the Giants (picking 6th), Vikings (picking 11th), Broncos (picking 12th), and Raiders (picking 13th). There have been rumors that the Los Angeles Rams (picking 19th) might really like Penix as an eventual successor to Matthew Stafford.

It's hard to know what to believe at this time of year, but if Rap Sheet is saying that Penix is "likely" to be a first-round pick at this point, then it's worth noting. He's not putting information out there to help teams out. Does that mean that Penix is guaranteed to go in the first half of the first round of this month's draft? No, nothing in the NFL Draft is a guarantee.

But the fact remains that the Broncos have had very intriguing connections to Penix since the NFL Combine. It was reported at the Combine that the Broncos grilled Penix on his worst plays at Washington, a tactic they apparently didn't take with any other prospect they interviewed.

Once again, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to take Penix at pick #12 overall, but the breadcrumbs are kind of leading there. It seems as though everything that's out there right now regarding the Broncos has something to do with their interest in JJ McCarthy or Bo Nix. The offseason has been filled with Bo Nix hype because on paper, he seems to be a pretty strong fit for Sean Payton's offense.

And that remains the case.

But there might be a higher upside with Penix Jr. Penix has top-tier arm talent and athletic traits, and just like Bo Nix, he showed incredible progression over the final two years of his collegiate career. There are injury concerns with Penix dating back to his time at Indiana, but he was cleared at the Scouting Combine medically and showed no ill effects of any knee procedures he's had in the past.

The knock on Penix has always been the injury issues in combination with the fact that he's going to be 24 at the beginning of May, but being an older rookie at the QB position doesn't really matter as much anymore. Penix might be floating around the league trying to stick as a backup right now if he hadn't had the chance to actually improve his game at the collegiate level. That experience was extremely valuable to him.

Not only has Penix met with the Denver Broncos formally at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he's also taken an official visit to the team facility. The Broncos know they are at a critical juncture right now and getting the QB position right is priority 1.