Giants’ strong presence at Washington pro day reinforces Huskies’ deep talent pool


It was impossible to ignore the Giants’ deep contingent of evaluators at Washington’s pro day last week.

GM Joe Schoen, head coach Brian Daboll, director of player personnel Tim McDonnell, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney and wide receiver coach Mike Groh were all on hand to watch the Huskies.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was the feature attraction, timed with an unofficial 4.46 40-yard dash time. He even had dinner with the Giants, reinforcing the team’s diligent homework on the top quarterbacks in this draft.

The lefthanded Penix threw for 4,903 yards and 36 touchdowns on a 14-1 Washington team that scored 36 points per game and advanced to the National Championship game before losing to Michigan, 34-13.

Penix, a pocket passer who turns 24 in May, felt compelled to shoot down any NFL teams’ concerns about his mobility or athleticism with his workout.

“I want to write my own story, write my own narrative, and I feel like I did that today,” Penix told ESPN. “I know in my game I don’t have to run, so I don’t. [But] if I got a chance to compete on the big stage, I want to do it. And I did that.”

Penix is a first-round talent whose injury history could push him to the second round, where the Giants traded away pick No. 39 to Carolina for Brian Burns but still hold pick No. 47 from the Seattle Seahawks.

Then again, Penix has been stellar all offseason from the Senior Bowl to the NFL Combine to his Pro Day. So it’s possible a team could take a chance on him in the middle or late first.

Regardless, it’s important to understand that the Giants rolled deep into Washington because there was more than a quarterback to see.

The Huskies have one of the most talented rosters in the draft, with 13 total Huskies graded on, including six players ranked in Pro Football Focus’ top 70. And the Giants own picks No. 6, 47 and 70. So there is a good chance they could land one of Washington’s standout players.

Here are some of the names to watch, starting with one of the best skill players in the draft:

Rome Odunze, wide receiver: The 6-3, 212-pound wideout is expected to be a top 10 pick after hauling in 92 catches for 1,640 yards and 13 TDs from Penix last season. He is a candidate to be the Giants’ pick at No. 6 if they don’t go quarterback. The Huskies captain has size and elite ball skills, and he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He elected not to work out at Washington’s pro day, but there isn’t much not to like about this first-team All-American.

Troy Fautanu, left tackle: The 6-4, 317-pound tackle has started games at both tackle and guard. He anchored Washington’s O-line at left tackle last season, helping the Huskies win the Joe Moore Award as college football’s best line. And he has played 1,942 snaps the past two seasons while Washington has posted a 25-3 record. He’s a top 20 pick.

Ja’Lynn Polk, wide receiver: The 6-1, 203-pound wideout caught 69 passes for 1,159 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He split time between the slot and out wide. He is best when the ball is in the air, tracking and securing passes in traffic or deep down the field. And he ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He projects as a Day Two pick.

Jalen McMillan, wide receiver: The 6-1, 197-pound slot receiver caught 45 passes for 559 yards and five TDs last season. He runs with long strides to stretch the field, has big hands to secure the ball at the catch point and is a willing run blocker. And he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. PFF ranks him as its No. 65 overall player.

Bralen Trice, edge rusher: The 6-3, 245-pound pass rusher led Washington’s defense with seven sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. He had 49 tackles overall and ranks as PFF’s No. 69 overall player and No. 10 edge.

Roger Rosengarten, right tackle: The 6-5, 308-pounder started 28 games at right tackle the past two seasons and protected the lefthanded Penix’s blindside, helping Washington take home that Joe Moore Award as college football’s best line. The Giants did board work with Rosengarten at the Senior Bowl and are candidates to draft both at tackle and guard this month. He ranks as PFF’s No. 152 overall player in the later rounds.

Dillon Johnson, running back: The 6-0, 217-pound back had 1,195 rushing yards (5.1 per carry) and 16 TDs last season, plus 24 catches for 190 yards and an even a touchdown pass. Johnson is a tough, powerful and physical runner who can handle a heavy workload and thrives in short yardage and goal line situations. He is PFF’s No. 170 overall prospect in this draft.

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