Atlanta Falcons make surprise pick of QB Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 in 2024 NFL draft

Atlanta Falcons make surprise pick of QB Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 in 2024 NFL draft


The first surprise of the 2024 NFL draft came at the No. 8 overall pick via the Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta selected Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the pick – a stunning move considering the Falcons signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year contract (with $100 million guaranteed) during free agency. Cousins is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury. 

Penix Jr., who will turn 24 on May 8, himself was plagued throughout the pre-draft process by injury concerns throughout his college career. 

The Falcons were picking eighth overall for the third consecutive year.

After four years at Indiana, Penix transferred to Washington and posted prolific numbers, throwing for 9,544 yards and 67 touchdowns with just 19 interceptions.

In 2023, he led the Huskies to the College Football Playoff and dazzled in the semifinal win over Texas. Washington, however, was routed by Michigan in the national championship as Penix was bottled up.

The 6-2, 216-pound passer has been hailed as one of the draft’s best deep throwers, with NFL personnel praising his attacking style. But four season-ending injuries suffered at Indiana – two torn ACLs and two shoulder ailments – left some uncertainty about how teams would value him.

Penix Jr.’s selection marked the fourth signal-caller taken in the first eight picks of the draft. Former Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy was consistently projected to go ahead of Penix Jr., who was an uncertainty to go in the first round at all.

The Minnesota Vikings traded up to the No. 10 spot to select McCarthy.

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