2021 NFL draft class should serve as warning for Falcons

NFL: MAR 01 Scouting Combine

No matter your opinion on the Falcons drafting Michael Penix Jr. with the 8th overall pick, he’s set up to be the future of the organization. Terry Fontenot is extremely confident in his selection and a lot is riding on his development behind Kirk Cousins. If it doesn’t work, it won’t be long before everyone in the organization is filling out job applications.

For the sake of the sanity of Falcons fans, I pray this works out for the better, but if the 2021 draft class has shown us anything, nothing can be assumed when it comes to the quarterback position. Even first round draft picks work out less than 50% of the time. 2021 was the last draft class that was considered loaded with potential franchise quarterbacks. Five were taken in the top 15 picks, yet only one of them had their fifth year option picked up, first overall pick Trevor Lawrence.

Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones all had their options declined, and frankly, they were no-brainers. None of them are with the teams that drafted them after being traded for a couple of whistles and deflated footballs.

Just like 2021, everyone came into the 2024 draft with high expectations for the quarterbacks. As a result, six signal callers went within the first 12 picks. History tells us it’s likely three of them turn out to be starting quarterbacks for an extended period, but if it’s anything like the 2021 class, it could be a lot worse.

The national storyline surrounding Penix right now is all about the Falcons process. Nobody has ever paid a quarterback $180 million in free agency and then turned around and drafted his successor before he’s even taken a snap. Because of that, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about Penix the prospect. The former Washington quarterback has a unique skill set. He’s an incredible athlete with one of the best arms you’ll ever see.

However, Penix isn’t the first athletic quarterback with a strong arm to enter the league. Many have failed before, and many more will in the future. Hopefully, the Falcons did right by trusting their gut, but finding the right quarterback in the draft is often a crapshoot, no matter where a team is selecting.

Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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