July 16, 2024

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen answers questions during a news conference after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL AFC division playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)


The 1999 NFL Draft was a quarterback-driven class with three signal callers taken in the first three picks. The Minnesota Vikings waited with the 11th-overall pick and watched as Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, and Akili Smith went off the board.

At that moment, the odds of selecting a quarterback were slim. But Minnesota waited its turn and took a big-armed quarterback out of Central Florida. Daunte Culpepper would become the closest thing the Vikings have had to a homegrown franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton and become one of the best picks in that draft.

Twenty-five years later, the Vikings will be on the clock with the 11th-overall pick in the draft. Caleb Williams, J.J. McCarthy, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels are all worthy of a top-four selection, but Minnesota would have to make a pricey trade to acquire one of them.

If Minnesota’s sticker shock prevents them from making a deal, they could stay at No. 11 and try to strike the same vein of gold with Michael Penix that they found with Culpepper 25 years ago.

Penix is a polarizing prospect among. He has one of the best arms in the draft, but his advanced age (he’ll turn 24 in May) and lengthy injury history are enough to scare some fans off. There are plenty of reasons Vikings faithful wouldn’t be thrilled to see Penix’s name called with the 11th-overall pick, but there could be enough to make it work.

Penix’s career started at Indiana, and he led the Hoosiers to Big Ten relevance. Penix played in three games for Indiana before tearing his ACL in October 2018. A year later, he completed 68.8% of his passes while throwing 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Penix was an impact player for the Hoosiers in 2020, throwing for 1,645 yards, 14 touchdowns, and four interceptions in six games, but only completed 56.4% of his passes. But he also tore his ACL that November. While returning the following fall, he threw four touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing just 53.7% of his passes before suffering an A/C shoulder joint separation in his non-throwing arm.

Penix hit the transfer portal the following spring and landed with a better supporting cast in Washington. With Kalen DeBoer on the sidelines and Rome Odunze as his top target, Penix threw for 67 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and completed 65.4% of his passes during his two seasons in Seattle.

The last two years are what everyone remembers when discussing Penix as a prospect. But his decision-making under pressure was a key weakness.

Pro Football Focus charted Penix with a 58.2 adjusted completion percentage (which eliminates completions out of the quarterback’s control, such as drops, spikes, and throwaways) last season at Washington and posted a 29.4% adjusted completion rate against Michigan in the National Championship game.

Penix’s 74.5% adjusted completion rate overall is also a concern as it ranks behind top quarterback prospects such as McCarthy (80%), Daniels (79.6%), Williams (77.5%), and Maye (75.3%). Even Bo Nix, considered the sixth-best quarterback in the draft, led the nation with an 85.5% adjusted completion rate and could be on the radar, according to Kevin O’Connell’s comments on The Pat McAfee Show last week.

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