NFL draft analyst says Michael Penix Jr. would give Dolphins ‘immediate upgrade’ over Tua Tagovailoa

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL draft analyst Joel Klatt believes that if the Miami Dolphins were to select quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the 2024 NFL Draft, he would be an “immediate upgrade” over the team’s current signal-caller, Tua Tagovailoa.

“I love Michael Penix so much throwing the ball down the field,” Klatt said. “I love his timing and ability to control from the pocket so much. Love his ability to throw with leverage so much, I don’t think that this gets talked about enough when we talk about quarterbacks is are you putting your wide receiver in a position to have better odds than the defensive back? How many times are you making your wide receiver catch a 48% ball versus a 52% ball? That’s what I mean by leverage.

“When I watch Penix throw the ball and I’m talking down the field, the ball is always opposite the defender. And the wide receiver is always in a position where his odds are greater. And so, from that point, I start thinking about the offenses, the play callers and the personnel in the NFL and it’s like if I wanted to pick one spot where I think he would immediately and not only make them better but flourish, I cannot stop thinking about Miami. I cannot stop thinking about Miami. … I think he’s an upgrade — I think he’s an immediate upgrade.

“There is not a doubt in my mind that he throws the ball better down the field and more accurately, and with more power, and tempo, and pace than Tua right now. And that doesn’t mean Tua doesn’t have a spot in the league. Tua would be better for Sean Payton. In a lot of respects because of what Sean Payton likes to do with more a point guard style quarterback.”

Penix spent the last two seasons playing college football at the University of Washington. Across 15 games played for the Huskies during the 2023 season, he ended up with 4,903 passing yards and 36 passing touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions.

He also boasted a pass completion percentage of 65.4 and averaged 8.8 passing yards per attempt.

With Penix leading the way, the Huskies finished the 2023 season with an incredible 14-1 record, with the team’s lone defeat coming against the University of Michigan in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Penix accumulated 255 passing yards and threw more interceptions (two) than touchdowns (one) in the loss.

Shifting to the subject of Tagovailoa, he was one of the more productive quarterbacks in the NFL during the 2023 regular season according to the numbers. In 17 appearances with the Dolphins, he totaled a league-high 4,624 passing yards and averaged 272.0 passing yards gained per game played.

Tagovailoa’s offensive production led to him earning the first Pro Bowl selection of his NFL career and finishing fifth in the NFL Comeback Player of the Year voting.

But when the Dolphins needed Tagovailoa to step up and play well, he didn’t always rise to the occasion. In the team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs back in January, he finished with just 199 passing yards and completed only 20 of his 39 passing attempts.

Tagovailoa and the Dolphins ultimately scored just seven points in a game they lost by 19.

Still, while Tagovailoa underperformed when the playoffs rolled around, it’s difficult to argue that a rookie quarterback in Penix would instantly be a superior option over a signal-caller who is fresh off leading the NFL in total passing yards.

Dolphins fans will figure out who the team decides to select or not select once the NFL Draft begins on April 25, which is just under a month from now.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist. He has experience covering football at the high-school and professional levels.