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Michigan vs. Washington National Championship: The Matchups, Top NFL Draft Prospects | Michael Penix, J.J. McCarthy, College Football Playoff

Michigan vs. Washington National Championship: The Matchups, Top NFL Draft Prospects | Michael Penix, J.J. McCarthy, College Football Playoff



Two Teams With Contrasting Styles Set To Do Battle In Houston

The College Football Playoff National Championship features two teams with contrasting styles. Starting with the Michigan Wolverines, who boast an elite defense and a complementary run-first offense, they face the explosive, high-scoring Washington Huskies. Led by their quarterback, Michael Penix, and a trio of elite wide receivers, the Huskies possess a below-average defense but are a team ready to win a track meet on the football field if that's what the game calls for. Today's analysis will focus on the top impact players for each team eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft.


Can The Huskies Lean On Rome Odunze vs. A Tough Michigan Secondary?

The effectiveness of Michigan's elite secondary in covering on the backend and their ability to pressure the quarterback plays a significant role in this scenario. Having analyzed Michigan's defense throughout the year, it's evident that their depth and experience are complemented by exceptional coaching at every level. Jesse Minter's ability to effectively integrate coverages with pressures is noteworthy.


In the matchup, Rome Odunze, a key Washington Huskies wide receiver, is likely to encounter several one-on-one situations with Michigan's elite corner, Will Johnson. With his exemplary skills, Johnson would be a surefire top 10 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft if he were eligible, and he is projected to be a top 10 pick in the 2025 NFL Draft.


WR Rome Odunze, Washington

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 212 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 16

  • Play Style/Scheme: Dynamic receiver, known for deep-threat capabilities and reliable hands. Excels in vertical passing offense and could fit in a West Coast offense.

  • Draft Grade: High-End Starter Potential


Michigan's defensive strategy is expected to be varied. Odunze might face Will Johnson on one play, and then encounter bracket coverage involving two different players in the next. Although Odunze is likely to make an impact at some point, his role could be even more crucial as a decoy. This strategy could create more advantageous opportunities for Washington's other two elite wide receivers, Ja'Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan. Their involvement could be key in exploiting any openings in Michigan's defense.


Michael Penix Jr. vs. J.J. McCarthy For QB 3-4 in the 2024 NFL Draft?

The notion that we are witnessing a dynamic contest between two players competing for the QB3 spot in the 2024 NFL Draft is intriguing. However, I would argue that Michael Penix is already positioned to be QB2. If not for his injury history, he could feasibly be the top quarterback pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.


Michael Penix Jr.

Penix has had a remarkable season, highlighted by his impressive performance against Texas where he threw for 430 yards and 2 touchdowns. Additionally, Penix demonstrated an enhanced running ability in that game, a skill he will need to utilize against a Michigan defense known for its aggressive play.


QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 214 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 35

  • Play Style/Scheme: Mobile left-handed quarterback with improvisational flair. Suited for West Coast offense with RPOs and play-action.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


In terms of accuracy, Penix stands out as one of the most precise quarterbacks I have analyzed in recent years. His performance is comparable to that of CJ Stroud. While other analysts may draw parallels with Joe Burrow, I find the comparison between Stroud and Burrow more apt, so this association makes sense. Penix's player comparison could be Tua Tagovailoa, but elements of Philip Rivers' style are also evident in his gameplay.



J.J. McCarthy

Regarding J.J. McCarthy, his status as a first-round NFL talent is primarily due to his considerable potential. Despite inconsistencies in key moments, McCarthy possesses a powerful arm, the ability to make precise throws into tight windows, and elite mobility, with a reported 40-yard dash time in the 4.4 or 4.5 range.


QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 196 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 33

  • Play Style/Scheme: Highly athletic quarterback with exceptional speed and arm strength. Suited for schemes leveraging his mobility and play-making abilities.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


McCarthy's record as a starter at Michigan further underscores his ability. His winning pedigree is evident with a 26-1 record, undefeated matchups against Ohio State, three Big Ten titles, and a knack for delivering in crucial moments. His ability to perform under pressure and maintain overall safety with the football contributes significantly to his profile.


His performance against an Alabama defense with an elite secondary highlights his development as a quarterback. McCarthy has shown an improved understanding of taking what the defense offers rather than always opting for more difficult throws, a decision-making shift likely due to his confidence in his throwing power.


I'm optimistic about McCarthy's potential to become an elite NFL player. The championship stage against Washington's shaky secondary, known for struggling against explosive passing plays, presents a significant opportunity for him to enhance his draft stock. While a standout game against Washington might not significantly alter my high opinion of him, it could dramatically change national perceptions, especially if he manages to outperform Heisman runner-up Michael Penix.


Current List of 2024 NFL Draft Eligible Player Grades

Below is a complete list of players for whom we currently have NFL Draft grades ahead of the Sugar Bowl between the Washington Huskies and the Texas Longhorns.


Washington Top Draft Eligible Prospects

WR Rome Odunze, Washington

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 212 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 16

  • Play Style/Scheme: Dynamic receiver, known for deep-threat capabilities and reliable hands. Excels in vertical passing offense and could fit in a West Coast offense.

  • Draft Grade: High-End Starter Potential


ED Bralen Trice, Washington

  • Height: 6'4"

  • Weight: 274 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 27

  • Play Style/Scheme: Physically imposing edge rusher, excels in explosiveness and run stopping. Best suited for a 4-3 defensive scheme.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 214 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 35

  • Play Style/Scheme: Mobile left-handed quarterback with improvisational flair. Suited for West Coast offense with RPOs and play-action.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


WR Jalen McMillan, Washington

  • Height: 6'1"

  • Weight: 192 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 41

  • Play Style/Scheme: Dynamic in vertical and intermediate routes, excels in downfield passing. Fits in offenses utilizing play-action and spread concepts.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


OT Troy Fautanu, Washington

  • Height: 6'4"

  • Weight: 317 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 45

  • Play Style/Scheme: Balanced offensive tackle with good technique and power. Versatile for various schemes, including zone-blocking and power-run.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


ED Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Washington

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 260 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 97

  • Play Style/Scheme: Dynamic edge rusher with speed and power. Best in a 4-3 defensive scheme as a traditional defensive end.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Washington

  • Height: 6'2"

  • Weight: 204 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 102

  • Play Style/Scheme: Proficient route runner with ability to make contested catches. Suited for vertical passing schemes.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


Michigan Wolverines 2024 NFL Draft Eligible Players


QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 196 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 33

  • Play Style/Scheme: Highly athletic quarterback with exceptional speed and arm strength. Suited for schemes leveraging his mobility and play-making abilities.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan

  • Height: 5'11"

  • Weight: 180 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 39

  • Play Style/Scheme: Versatile cornerback, adept in nickel and press coverage, effective against slot receivers.

  • Draft Grade: High-End Starter Potential


WR Roman Wilson, Michigan

  • Height: 6'0"

  • Weight: 192 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 42

  • Play Style/Scheme: Vertical threat capability, potential fit in offensive schemes with a vertical passing focus.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


IDL Kris Jenkins, Michigan

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 305 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 55

  • Play Style/Scheme: Robust presence on defensive line, thriving in run-stopping scenarios. Valuable in 3-4 and 4-3 schemes.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


IOL Zak Zinter, Michigan

  • Height: 6'6"

  • Weight: 334 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 70

  • Play Style/Scheme: Robust and aggressive style, especially in run game. Suited for zone-heavy schemes.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


LB Michael Barrett, Michigan

  • Height: 6'0"

  • Weight: 239 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 76

  • Play Style/Scheme: Versatile linebacker, effective in man coverage and at the line of scrimmage. Best fit in 4-3 or 4-2-5 defenses.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


S Rod Moore, Michigan

  • Height: 6'0"

  • Weight: 198 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 79

  • Play Style/Scheme: Skilled in diagnosing plays, ideal for heavy zone coverage schemes. Comparable to Earl Thomas and Adrian Amos.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


LB Junior Colson, Michigan

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 247 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 80

  • Play Style/Scheme: Versatile linebacker, effective in run defense and zone coverage. Suited for 4-3 defensive schemes.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


RB Blake Corum, Michigan

  • Height: 5'8"

  • Weight: 212 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 82

  • Play Style/Scheme: Workhorse back, proficient in zone and power run schemes. Combines quick feet, vision, and agility.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


RB Donovan Edwards, Michigan

  • Height: 6'1"

  • Weight: 204 lbs

  • Overall Rk: 83

  • Play Style/Scheme: Versatile, complements zone-blocking schemes. Crucial asset in running and passing game.

  • Draft Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential


TE AJ Barner, Michigan

  • Height: 6'6"

  • Weight: 251 lbs

  • Overall Rk: NR

  • Play Style/Scheme: Traditional tight end with strong blocking foundation and reliable receiving skills. Fits well in pro-style offenses.

  • Draft Grade: Low-Level Starter Potential


WR Cornelius Johnson, Michigan

  • Height: 6'3"

  • Weight: 211 lbs

  • Overall Rk: NR

  • Play Style/Scheme: Well-rounded receiver, excels in deep passing game. Fits in West Coast or Air Coryell systems.

  • Draft Grade: Low-Level Starter Potential

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