April 24, 2024


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The NFL drafted 4 QBs in the first round along with Secret Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix

The NFL drafted 4 QBs in the first round along with Secret Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix

INDIANAPOLIS — And then there were four. Well, in the least four.

That seems to be the general consensus among the staff regarding the quarterback class that came out of the NFL scouting combine last week. More precisely: As we head toward the pro circuit and personal workouts, a group of talent evaluators believe Michigan's JJ McCarthy has joined USC's Caleb Williams, LSU's Jayden Daniels, and North Carolina's Drake May as confirmed first-round picks. This is despite an outstanding, sometimes choppy performance for McCarthy, especially compared to Washington's other “second-tier” quarterback prospects Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon's Beau Nix, who had smoother sessions (albeit for different reasons) in Indianapolis.

When asked their opinion on the number of quarterbacks who now appear to be stuck in the first round, seven of seven evaluators included McCarthy in the mix. As expected, McCarthy's 18-minute interview sessions attracted some positive reviews, as did his demeanor and interaction at quarterback drills, when two evaluators noted that others seemed to gravitate toward him. The evaluators were also pleasantly surprised to see him up to 219 pounds, though there was at least some doubt about how much of that was “real” weight, versus the pounds he packed for the event through water and some calories.

Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy walks during the NFL scouting combine, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Indianapolis.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Michigan's JJ McCarthy showed enough first-round potential as an NFL prospect last week at the scouting complex in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

That doubt aside, the overall assessment was that McCarthy showed enough at the combine to keep teams intrigued with his above-average arm strength, combination of intangibles and leadership, allowing him to build on this week at his upcoming pro day at Michigan (on March 22). . ) and a list of visits and personal training that he will perform. All of this means that while teams inside the top three — or those capable of moving into the top three — try to establish a pecking order between Williams, Daniels and Maye, the rest of the quarterback-needy teams from No. 8 (the Atlanta Falcons) on down are left to figure out. McCarthy.

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He may not be alone in this sifting process. Of the seven evaluators, three believe either Penix or Nix, or both, could establish themselves as first-round picks in the next seven weeks.

“It could be five [first-round QBs] “Or more,” one resident said. “It just depends on how many spots are open — and which spots are open — after free agency, and how everyone feels about the long-term options.”

Another resident added, “It's soft [quarterback class] Next year. In terms of experience in this class – certainly some experience – but also talent, it's better than next year's group, I think. Someone is exploring the future out there, in my opinion. You have to weigh what's coming [in 2025] With the bigger picture.”

In some reviews, this is what leads to the suggestion that a Penix or Nix could be selected in the first round. But apparently they are still a mystery in the middle of this process. Like McCarthy, they have very strong differing opinions about them. And unlike McCarthy, they don't have age or a projected high ceiling working in their favor. Both will be 24 next season, both have started a lot of games and thrown a lot of assists, and both have a more defined sense of what they can be. Conversely, McCarthy turned 21 in January and appears to have a lot of development (and potential ceiling) ahead of him. Some of them may have been shown when he showed up at the pool at 219, rather than the low 200 that some personnel departments were expecting.

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What both Penix and Nix did do was look more solid in their throwing sessions at the combine. Although there are still rumblings about Nix's arm strength, his mechanics were sound and the throwing session showed the touch and accuracy that suits many offenses. He showed that he can throw the ball deep, although not as easily as Penix.

Meanwhile, Penix had his best throwing session at the combine. He threw deep passes with modest effort, with clean, tight spirals. He was also effective on intermediate passes, with strong timing despite working with unfamiliar receivers. His measuring tools are also back in good shape, especially his 10 1/2-inch hands which likely have a lot to do with the ease and completeness of his deep balls. And although his medical condition is what it is — two shoulder surgeries and two knee surgeries — there was no indication last week that teams were bothered about the validity of those repairs. Not that it went without comment.

“[Penix] “He is a pure bowler,” said a senior AFC executive. “In this setting, it looked really good. Live [versus] With rushers getting to you, those are two different things. But the medical examination is what will keep him out of the first round in my mind.”

“Penix could use it,” another reviewer said. “I see day two for sure.”

This particular evaluator stacked the second tier of quarterbacks as McCarthy and the Knicks have first-round potential.

In some ways, it seems that the same arguments that entered the plural have survived the emergence of the same arguments. This is true, except for the information collected. McCarthy appears capable of adding weight to his frame, and has shown some leadership and 'alpha' as he integrates into his midfield group. Even with the mediocre performance, it was something to build on. The Knicks were tough and slick and continued to chip away at a player who was too experienced and ready to step in sooner rather than later. Penix showed that he can interfere with other midfielders (apart from the top three who did not practice) and perform as good or better than anyone else on the field.

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all in all? It's a class of four first-round picks that could grow to five or six. Now bring on the pro days.