33rd Team report adds context to Falcons’ selection of Michael Penix Jr.

The Atlanta Falcons caused a bit of an uproar after selecting Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft. Penix was the first truly surprising pick, but mostly because nobody expected the Falcons would be the ones to draft him.

While some fans and analysts are still scratching their heads, this selection came down to the philosophy of Falcons head coach Raheem Morris. Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team explained that the decision to draft Penix goes back to the 2020 NFL offseason.

Morris, who previously served as the team’s interim head coach in 2020, was interviewed for the full-time job before losing out to Arthur Smith. During that interview, Morris discussed the need for the Falcons to have a succession plan in place for Matt Ryan.

According to Meirov, Smith convinced the front office that quarterback wasn’t an immediate need, prompting the team to use its first-round pick on tight end Kyle Pitts.

The 2021 season was rough with Ryan under center, and things only got worse after trading the former league MVP away in 2022. Atlanta signed Marcus Mariota and drafted Desmond Ridder in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.

Neither player proved to be the future at the position and Smith was fired shortly after the 2023 season concluded. As Morris highlighted during his introductory press conference, he probably wouldn’t have gotten the job had the team solidified the QB position under Smith.

Since Cousins is still playing at a high level, many felt the Penix pick was a waste of resources. However, as the front office learned with Matt Ryan, it’s never too early to begin preparation for the future.

Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire