Where do Falcons rank among best landing spots for rookie QBs?

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The Falcons did the unexpected when they drafted Michael Penix with their top draft pick.

It made him the fourth quarterback taken in the first round with six total going Thursday night, matching a league record that was set in 1983, headlined by John Elway and Dan Marino.

The position has never been more valuable than it is today, and for a club that went from the mountaintop to the deepest, darkest valley, Atlanta never wanted to be in quarterback purgatory again.

Matt Ryan kept the Falcons successful for more than a decade. Once he was ousted by Arthur Blank’s lust for Deshaun Watson, the Falcons got a taste of what so many others have dealt with for decades watching Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder under center.

Ideally, the Falcons go from Kirk Cousins to Michael Penix, and Atlanta has stability at the position for the next 15 years. It’s an inspiring thought, but it’s the hardest position in the sport to project.

There’s no telling what Penix will be. However, I think there’s an argument to be had that he’s entering the best situation among the 2024 quarterback class. This has nothing to do with the prospect and everything to do with the circumstances. Beginning with the least favorable to most favorable:

Drake Maye, Patriots

I actually think Maye landed in the worst situation among the first-round quarterbacks, especially if the Patriots thrust him into a starting role. They don’t have the offensive infrastructure to support him, and Jerod Mayo is a first-time defensive head coach. Alex Van Pelt also hasn’t ever been solely responsible for an offensive system outside of one season with the Bills, when the team averaged just 16.1 points per game and resided near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories. In that same breath, there probably isn’t a ton of pressure to deliver immediately, especially after a buffer of Mac Jones to replace the GOAT, Tom Brady.

Bo Nix, Broncos

I almost put Jayden Daniels here but ultimately went with Nix. He’ll be under immediate pressure to justify the first-round pick, but he has a decent supporting cast. Sean Payton remains the best thing going for Nix in Denver, though. The former Saints head coach is still one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. Though Nix doesn’t have stellar physical skills, Payton should be able to get the absolute most out of him.

Jayden Daniels, Commanders

The primary reason I went with Jayden Daniels’ situation over Nix is the Commanders’ superior skill players and vast future resources. The Broncos don’t have a ton of draft capital or cap space, while Washington does. Former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has a defensive background but is much more experienced than Mayo. I really hate Daniels’ offensive line and offensive coordinator, however.  It could look ugly in the immediate. Kliff Kingsbury isn’t some mastermind, and Washington’s offensive line could be a turnstile in 2024.

Caleb Williams, Bears

Some might see Williams as set up for success, and though Chicago is an ascending program, I wouldn’t be so sure. The supporting cast is headlined by D.J. Moore, Rome Odunze, Keenan Allen, and D’Andre Swift, but I have questions about Matt Eberflus, Shane Waldron, and the Bears offensive line. Those three factors could really hold Williams back. Moreover, the franchise hasn’t had a franchise quarterback in a lifetime and expectations are greater in the Windy City than anywhere else.

J.J. McCarthy, Vikings

I could argue that McCarthy fell into the best situation. The Vikings are loaded everywhere, led by Kevin O’Connell. The Minnesota head coach is among the best offensive minds in the game, but that’s not even the best part. Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, and Aaron Jones are the best group of skill players among those on this list. The Vikings went from one stable quarterback to another in my eyes and could easily be considered a better situation than the Falcons.

Michael Penix Jr., Falcons

From a supporting cast standpoint, few compare to the Falcons and Penix. Zac Robinson is heralded among the best upcoming offensive coordinators, and Penix will have a trio of top 10 picks to distribute the ball to in Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London, along with a very good line that’s returning all five starters. Additionally, Penix will benefit from sitting behind Kirk Cousins for at least one season.

Now, you could argue that Penix is behind McCarthy and maybe Williams, especially considering the Falcons’ offensive supporting cast could look a whole lot different by the time he’s starting, but I do think it’s close between the Vikings and Falcons.

Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire

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