Skip to main content

Falcons select QB Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 pick overall in 2024 NFL Draft

Atlanta decides to use its first-round draft pick on former Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. 

Draft-Pick-16x9 web (1)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Michael Penix Jr. from Washington with the No. 8 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. Learn more about the Falcons' first-round pick from Thursday:

Height: 6-2

Weight: 216

School: Washington

2023 stats: 15 starts | 363 passes completed off 555 attempts (65.4 completion percentage) | 4,903 passing yards | 36 touchdowns | 11 interceptions

Honors: First-team All-American | 2x Second-team All-Pac 12 | Comeback Player of the Year in 2022 | Maxwell Award winner in 2023 | Heisman Trophy finalist | Team captain

Tori McElhaney's analysis: The Falcons already have QB1 on the roster. That's Kirk Cousins, and this pick doesn't change that fact. What it does change, potentially, is the future of the quarterback position beyond the Cousins days.

This pick signifies a couple things for the Falcons.

For starters, it shows Terry Fontenot and Co. are playing chess, not checkers. They are looking two or three moves ahead – or in this case, two or three years ahead. Cousins signed a four-year $180 million deal this offseason. The way this contract is constructed, though, there are ways for the Falcons to part ways with Cousins before that fourth year is up, if they so choose.

We're a long ways from that point, though. So, bringing in Penix signifies something else: the need for development.

Penix was arguably the most electric college quarterback in 2023. Though he didn't win the Heisman Trophy, he put together two seasons at Washington that got people talking. He was the first FBS player to pass for 4,500-plus yards in back-to-back seasons since Patrick Mahomes did so in 2015-16. That's pretty good company to keep.

We take a look at Michael Penix Jr. in action prior to being selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2024 NFL Draft.

At Washington, Penix was instrumental to the success of his teammates, too. Wide receiver Rome Odunze held an FBS-best 1,640 receiving yards and had a first-down/touchdown rate of 80.4%. Fellow receiver Ja'Lynn Polk also broke 1,100 receiving yards with Penix as his quarterback, his best single-season mark by a large margin since joining Washington in 2020. Then, there's Jalen McMillan, who was Penix's top receiving target in 2022. His production was limited because of missed time with an injury that kept him off the field for four games. However, he was still able to amass 500 receiving yards, averaging more than 12 yards per catch.

The accolades and production of Penix over the last two years are numerous. The question about Penix remains his durability.

In four seasons with Indiana, Penix sustained four season-ending injuries (twice repaired torn ACL, surgery on his sternoclavicular joint in right shoulder and an AC joint separation). However, it has been years since an injury truly sidelined Penix, with the AC joint separation happening in October 2021. Since then, Penix has been lights-out for Washington and gotten the nation's attention. And apparently? The Falcons' attention, too.

According to Dane Brugler's 2024 NFL Draft Guide, Penix may not be the highest touted quarterback in this year's draft class, "but his arm confidence and willingness to attack every square inch of the field field can be a productive formula in the right situation."

Could that situation – sitting behind Cousins for a couple years – be just what Penix and the Falcons need? Time will tell.

Related Content