Falcons potentially avoided terrible mistake in trade up to top of NFL Draft

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The Falcons shocked the entire NFL world when they drafted Michael Penix with their top pick.

Most fans aren’t in love with the selection, but it isn’t about Michael Penix and has more to do with Atlanta’s process, primarily giving Kirk Cousins a $180 million free agent contract less than two months before taking Penix.

Would you believe me if I told you that it could’ve been even worse?

At the beginning of the offseason, there was much speculation about what the Falcons would do in the quarterback market. Would they dip into free agency, trade up the draft board, or a combination of several options?

It turns out that the Falcons did indeed call the top four teams to trade up, according to a report from Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

“… the Falcons investigated trading up in Indy. They got flat-out no’s from the Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders,” Breer wrote. “The response from the New England Patriots, on the third pick, was similar, and the Arizona Cardinals told Fontenot that they wouldn’t move the fourth pick until they were on the clock two months later, which only emboldened Atlanta in its plan to pursue Cousins.”

It never came to fruition, and it prompted Atlanta’s brass to target Cousins. However, had the Falcons been able to convince one of the top teams to make a deal, it could’ve made them look even more ridiculous than they already do.

Let me paint the scenario.

The Falcons send multiple first-round picks and possibly even more draft capital to the Commanders, Patriots or Cardinals but not to draft Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, or even Marvin Harrison Jr.

No, in hindsight, it seems through piecing together multiple reports, that the Falcons had Michael Penix rated as the top prospect behind Caleb Williams, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, and would’ve drafted Penix had a deal been worked out to move up the draft board.

“In their quarterback stack, their pecking order settled into USC’s Caleb Williams at No. 1, then Penix, then LSU’s Jayden Daniels,” Robinson writes. “Overall, Penix was rated among the Falcons’ top four prospects, with Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. rounding out the group.”

Though Penix fell to the Falcons’ 8th pick, it’s clear there’s an alternate reality where Atlanta traded up to grab Penix because he would’ve been the top prospect on the board. Granted, that deal hopefully would’ve meant Atlanta wouldn’t have signed Kirk Cousins, assuming a trade was worked out prior to the NFL Draft.

Still, the point is the Falcons called about trading up, and Robinson reports that Penix was their second-highest graded prospect. Imagine a world where the Falcons mortgaged multiple first-rounders but not for Daniels or Maye.

It would’ve been a nightmare scenario from where I sit. The most well respected draft pundits had Penix graded far lower than Daniels and Maye, and though we shouldn’t take the word of these people as gospel, I tend to side with the one opposite of the Atlanta Falcons.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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