Falcons draft pick among 5 who are most likely to be a bust

NFL: MAR 01 Scouting Combine

The NFL Draft is in the rearview, but the storylines are just beginning for the Falcons because they made the pick of the cycle, taking Michael Penix with the 8th overall pick about six weeks after signing Kirk Cousins.

Terry Fontenot and Raheem Morris clearly have conviction in the prospect that is Penix, and it’s easy to see why. The Washington product can absolutely spin it. There are certain guys that just throw it differently, and Penix is one of them.

However, there’s much more that goes into being a franchise quarterback, a lot of which is above the neck. Of course, there are mechanic issues that can be cleaned up like footwork, but most of Penix’s transition will revolve around how he adjusts between the ears.

For that reason, there’s no reason to just assume he will successfully replace Kirk Cousins eventually. In fact, there’s about a 30% hit rate on first-round quarterbacks, which means that two of the 2024 class will pan out.

Four of Penix, Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, Bo Nix, and J.J. McCarthy will bust out, according to statistics. Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated believes Atlanta’s top pick will be one of them.

4. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Atlanta Falcons

It’s somewhat strange adding Penix to this list because he might not play for a few seasons. But succession plans don’t always work out, with Trey Lance and the San Francisco 49ers being the most recent example. Lance waited to play for a year before eventually replacing Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter. Injuries occurred, the 49ers stumbled on Brock Purdy and Lance is now a backup in Dallas.

Obviously, Atlanta’s situation could turn out much differently than what played out in San Francisco. But this partnership is already off to a rocky start after failing to inform Kirk Cousins of the pick in a timely fashion. What if Penix is thrust to play immediately if Cousins suffers an injury? Will the Falcons prepare for that scenario by having Penix take snaps with the first-team offense during training camp and regular-season practices? If the Falcons truly want to make this a succession plan, they need to put themselves in awkward situations to prepare for all scenarios.

Michael Penix could very well flame out in Atlanta, but the reasons aren’t listed by Manzano.

The Falcons haven’t set Penix up for failure by any means. He’s going to sit behind Kirk Cousins, who is a consummate professional, and learn from one of the better veteran quarterbacks in this league.

Moreover, Atlanta’s supporting cast is one of the better units among the rookie quarterbacks. Granted, it could look much different by the time Penix actually gets the call to start, but the point remains.

Odds are that Michael Penix won’t be the next great quarterback, but the reasons that he won’t realize his full potential with the Falcons aren’t explained by Manzano.

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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