Anyone who can knock down non-QB prospects a bit further is a welcome sight.
Michael Penix Jr. woke up with fewer doubters than ever on Tuesday morning.
Penix, the Washington Huskies star quarterback, has always exhibited NFL-caliber potential from his earliest days leading the Indiana Hoosiers to national prominence. However, with his history of severe injuries, there were still a number of scouts and analysts who were likely never going to fully back Penix when it matters knowing the risks involved. But sometimes the reward is simply too great to ignore.
For the next week, Penix is going to remain in the center ring of college football's circus of coverage after helping them arrive in the National Championship game next Monday against the Michigan Wolverines. This makes it a prime time to remind Chiefs Kingdom that Penix's soaring stock is a very welcome development for the franchise's draft hopes.
If the season were to end today, the Chiefs would pick around No. 25. If they make good on their hopes for a championship repeat, they'll be back in the familiar spot at No. 32. Either way, Chiefs fans know that their favorite team will be selecting in the last quarter of every round for the foreseeable future.
Picking so late in every round is a trade any fan for any team would make given that it signals consistent success on the part of the franchise, but it is dispiriting to watch the top prospects every year skate by without any chance to see Brett Veach draft them. Just last year, we even watched Veach attempt to trade all over the draft's second half to no avail. As he reminded us after the draft, it takes two to tango and no one wants to do business with Kansas City.
This is why it's so important for a draft class to be deep at positions of need for the Chiefs or for teams to make a run on a position in which the Chiefs are disinterested.
Consider that an average draft class might have 20 or so prospects labeled as true first-round talents for a front office like Kansas City. That means that before the draft even starts, the Chiefs need some teams to reach (in their eyes) for prospects not on their draft board (or lower on their draft board). If the Chiefs are picking at No. 32, they need nearly a dozen players to be taken in whom they have zero or little interest.
We saw this at work in the 2022 NFL Draft when the Chiefs traded up from No. 29 to No 21 with the New England Patriots. The Chiefs were able to still get someone from their core list of top players in cornerback Trent McDuffie and the results speak for themselves on the field.
Back to Penix. He's fresh off of a brilliant showcase of his talents against the Texas Longhorns in the CFP semi-final and he's got a real chance to turn even more heads with a strong start against the Wolverines. He's now being mentioned by some draft experts in line in with the other top quarterbacks in the draft.
With his extensive injury history, Penix is going to be a tougher sell (and therefore, a lower pick) than the likes of Caleb Williams at this point, but the Chiefs don't care if someone goes No. 1 or No. 20. What they need is for someone at quarterback to be taken in front of them. Because they have Patrick Mahomes under center already and because they have other significant needs, quarterback is likely out of the question for their pick. Thus, if a team selects Penix Jr., then another top prospect falls one more spot—and every spot counts.
Not only is it good for Penix Jr. himself to show what he can do against top competition but it's good for the Chiefs as well. The closer they can get to an impact player at a position of need, the better the team will be set for the draft. And given the concerns at multiple positions for K.C., the Chiefs could use the boost.
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