Falcons had Michael Penix Jr ranked as QB2 in the NFL Draft


The Falcons did the unthinkable with their first-round selection last Thursday, taking quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the 8th overall pick. The decision to pick the former Washington quarterback that highly was far from a surprise. Many teams deemed him worthy of a top 10 draft pick. However, selecting him 8th overall after inking Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract less than two months prior is why this is the #1 talking point following the completion of the NFL Draft.

We won’t know for several years whether the Falcons made the right decision by taking Penix; however, we already know a lot about the thought process. Terry Fontenot and Raheem Morris took the podium to defend the selection after the first round, mentioning the Green Bay Packers’ blueprint, one that’s allowed them to go from Favre to Rodgers to Love without ever experiencing the dreadful QB purgatory, which the Falcons have been stuck in since the departure of Matt Ryan.

On the surface, it’s a splendid idea, one that ensures the Falcons will be relevant not just right now but for the next 15 years. Who wouldn’t want to go from Hall-of-Fame quarterback to Hall-of-Fame quarterback without a drop-off? However, the Falcons aren’t the Packers. There’s no reason to believe they’ll have the same type of success in drafting and developing Penix as the Packers have had with Favre, Rodgers, and Love. Green Bay also already had a Super Bowl-caliber roster, was not picking in the top 10, and did not just hand Favre or Rodgers a four-year, $180 million contract extension like the Falcons just did with Cousins.

The Green Bay blueprint is out there, but the situations between the Falcons and Packers are not comparable.

With that being said, organizations should never hesitate to take a quarterback, regardless of where they are drafting, if they believe in said quarterback. One thing that cannot be argued is that the Falcons believe Michael Penix Jr. has the potential to be something special.

According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, in a loaded quarterback class that saw six signal callers taken in the top 12 picks, the Falcons had Penix as their QB2, ahead of Jayden Daniels and behind only Caleb Williams, who went #1 overall.

“Following that experience, a clear consensus was established between the coaching staff and personnel department that Penix qualified as an elite player on their draft board,” Robinson writes. “In their quarterback stack, their pecking order settled into USC’s Caleb Williams at No. 1, then Penix, then LSU’s Jayden Daniels. Overall, Penix was rated among the Falcons’ top four prospects, with Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. rounding out the group. Such a lofty evaluation made it virtually impossible for the Falcons to trade back with any confidence that another team wouldn’t select Penix in the top 10.”

Regardless of your opinions on Penix the prospect, you have to admire the Falcons conviction in the pick. They were as high as anyone on the potential and didn’t hesitate taking him 8th overall, knowing the backlash that would follow.

In that same breath, it’s also part of the entire problem. The Falcons homework on Penix should have been completed well before they ever considered signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract. If it wasn’t, that’s a problem, and if it was, why would they invest so heavily into a free agent quarterback?

Acquiring both is the biggest hedge in NFL history. It negatively impacts the potential for either quarterback to reach the top of the mountain. The roster won’t be as competitive as possible for Cousins because the Falcons spent their top draft pick on a backup quarterback, and Atlanta will be unable to benefit from the fruits of a quarterback on a rookie contract because they signed Kirk Cousins to such a large contract.

Now, in order to give either a chance at winning a Super Bowl, they’ll have to be nearly perfect in their decision making moving forward. Something the current front office has not proven they are capable of accomplishing.

Photo: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire

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