The Falcons selecting Michael Penix Jr. was the biggest twist in the first-round of the 2024 NFL Draft

Michael Penix Jr. pic
Michael Penix Jr. pic

Last night, the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft took place in Detroit, Michigan. It was an exciting time for teams to add top talent to their rosters. The first four to six picks went as most mock drafts predicted. Three QBs and two WRs were gone in the first six picks. With the 8th pick in the draft, many analysts thought the Falcons would take the first defensive player off the board. 

However, Atlanta made a move that nobody saw coming. Despite just signing Kirk Cousins to a massive four-year contract this offseason, the Falcons still decided to draft a QB. They went with the 2023 Heisman runner-up, Michael Penix Jr. from Washington. League insiders reported that Cousins was stunned to hear that the Falcons were going to be taking a QB in the first round. After the first 32 picks in the first round, there’s no doubt that the Falcons taking Penix Jr. was the strangest.

When will Michael Penix Jr. be the starting QB for the Atlanta Falcons?

Per Dianna Russini of The Athletic, the Falcons did contact Kirk Cousins about the team selecting a QB. However, it wasn’t until the Falcons were already on the clock. What was Cousins going to do, tell his owner and GM no. That wouldn’t bode well since Cousins hasn’t even played a game yet for the Falcons. Terry Fontenot, the GM of the Falcons, said this was not an easy decision to make. He mentioned how they are trying to build a sustained, winning football team. Atlanta believes they did that by drafting Michael Penix Jr.

The first four seasons of Michael Penix Jr.’s collegiate career were bumpy, to say the least. Injuries impacted his playing time and Penix Jr. ended up transferring after the 2021 season. During his time in college, he had to bounce back from four different season-ending injuries. Most players would quit and not want to continue after four years in a row not being able to play a complete season. Luckily, the Washington Huskies took a chance on Penix Jr. and he played at a high level in his final two years. Penix Jr.’s 2023 campaign was his best season, finishing 14-1 and losing in the National Championship to Michigan. He threw for a career-high 4,903 yards and 36 passing touchdowns.

What were the Falcons thinking when they drafted Michael Penix Jr. with the 8th pick? ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Kirk Cousins’ agent told him that the Pro Bowl QB wasn’t particularly happy. Not only are they drafting his replacement but they didn’t pick anyone to help make the team better in 2024 according to Cousins. Not how you want your relationship with your franchise QB to start. Kirk Cousins is 35 and is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury. At his best, Cousins is a top-five QB in the NFL who has shown he can still sling the ball and be a productive player. Heading into next season, Cousins is their QB1 but he can’t feel great knowing Michael Penix Jr. could replace him at a moment’s notice.

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