Report: Patriots to have multiple scouts in attendance for Washington-Oregon game

Patriots

Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix are both ranked top-5 in ESPN’s 2024 NFL draft quarterback rankings.

Michael Penix Jr. is the current betting favorite to win the Heisman trophy. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Patriots seem to be looking ahead at the 2024 NFL draft class entering Week 6 of the 2023-24 season.

According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, New England is among numerous organizations expected to have scouts on hand in Seattle when the Washington Huskies host the Oregon Ducks on Saturday afternoon.

Both schools feature quarterbacks who are already categorized as top players at their position entering next year’s draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper placed No. 7 Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. as his fourth-ranked quarterback in his recent 2024 draft rankings. Kiper named No. 8 Oregon’s Bo Nix as his fifth-best quarterback in next year’s class.

With an unstable quarterback situation in the Patriots’ building between starter Mac Jones’s abysmal performances through five games this season and backup Bailey Zappe’s uninspiring appearances in back-to-back fourth quarters, perhaps the 1-4 team is hoping to get a head start in gathering information about 2024’s top signal-callers.

Nix, a senior at Oregon, has completed 80.4 percent of his passes through five games. He leads the country in that category. The 2022 transfer from Auburn has already logged 1,459 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and just one interception with the Ducks this year.

Oregon head coach Dan Lanning raved about Nix to On3.com Thursday, and has a history of praising his quarterback since transferring to the northwest.

“You have 10 coaches on your staff. With Bo, I feel like we have another coach,” Lanning said. “When he goes out there, he sees the game how we see it. He’s trying to accomplish what we want accomplished offensively. Obviously, he’s a very talented player and has a competitive edge that I’ve never been around before.”

Lanning said during Pac-12’s media day this summer that Nix even babysits his children.

“Bo’s not just our quarterback, he’s also my babysitter,” Lanning said. “I walked in the house the other day…Bo’s in the living room. And I’m like, ‘What are you up to man?’ He goes, ‘Oh the boys just finished basketball practice, they’re getting ready for bed.’ So there’s a unique connection there but it’s more than just football. He’s a member of the family.”

Nix underwent surgery for a broken ankle in November 2021 and dealt with a foot injury at the end of last season. However, he has stayed healthy to start the 2023 season.

As for Penix Jr., the Huskies’ quarterback is similarly putting up impressive numbers this season. The senior has completed 74.7 percent of his passes and owns a 196.5 rating through five games. Penix Jr. has thrown 1,999 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. His nearly 2,000 yards in the air is good for second-most in the nation entering Saturday.

Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer is spearheading Penix Jr.’s case to win the Heisman trophy and he is the current betting favorite to take home the hardware. DeBoer appeared on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and even gifted the host a shirt that said “Penix for Heisman”.

“I think he’s just continued to grow,” DeBoer said of Penix Jr. “The adversity that’s come his way, he’s just taken it on and understanding that I’m gonna control what I can control and that’s what I’m going to focus on…I think each and every day, you can see pieces of his past and how he’s responded and continued to come out. And that includes on gameday, when things aren’t going your way as a team, him rising to the occasion, making the most of the moment, and playing in the present.”

Penix Jr.’s aforementioned adversity refers to the number of injuries the quarterback has endured over his college career. The 23-year-old has torn his right ACL twice, once in 2018 and again in 2020. Penix Jr. also suffered an SC joint injury in 2019 and then an AC joint separation in 2021.

New England will decide whether or not to exercise Mac Jones’s fifth-year option on his rookie contract by May 2024, with the draft taking place between April 25-27. For reference, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had his option declined in April 2022, but agreed to a four-year, $82 million extension in March 2023. His fifth-year option would have cost the Giants under $23 million for the 2023 season alone.

Right now, Mac Jones’s future with the Patriots seems uncertain. New England may be looking ahead at the quarterback position early regardless of how their current starter performs the rest of his season.


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