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Bucs GM Jason Licht reacts to Falcons picking Michael Penix Jr. in 1st round

As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waited to make their top selection in the 2024 NFL draft at No. 26 overall Thursday night, one of their division rivals delivered the biggest surprise of the first round.

The Atlanta Falcons spent the No. 8 overall pick on Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr., despite having just signed veteran Kirk Cousins to a massive contract in free agency last month.

Speaking to the media after the Bucs picked Duke offensive lineman Graham Barton, general manager Jason Licht gave his thoughts on the Falcons’ shocking selection.

“I’m sure that they have their reason for it, which I can see,” Licht said. “It’s good long-term planning there. If you hit on him, you’ve got the future with you. I totally understood it. I didn’t think that it was a crazy move whatsoever. I thought somebody was going to probably do that with him.”

Penix was definitely one of the best quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, but he turns 24 years old next month, and has a long history of serious injuries from earlier in his career at Indiana. Drafting an older quarterback who has dealt with injuries in the past as a succession plan for a high-priced, 36-year-old veteran coming off a torn Achilles seemed like an odd decision by Atlanta.

Licht was clearly happy the Bucs got their man in Barton, and he might also be pleased that the Falcons’ top pick isn’t likely to make an immediate impact this season unless Cousins struggles or sustains another serious injury.

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DB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

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WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

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EDGE Bralen Trice, Washington

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CB Kamari Lassiter, Georgia

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CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Missouri

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WR Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky

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DL Michael Hall Jr., Ohio State

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CB Max Melton, Rutgers

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WR Roman Wilson, Michigan

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EDGE Chris Braswell, Alabama

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OL Christian Haynes, UConn

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LB Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

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CB Khyree Jackson, Oregon

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DL Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson

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RB Trey Benson, Florida State

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S Javon Bullard, Georgia

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WR Tez Walker, North Carolina

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CB D.J. James, Auburn

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DL Brandon Dorlus, Oregon

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DL Leonard Taylor III, Miami (FL)

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CB Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri

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TE Ja'Tavion Sanders, Texas

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EDGE Austin Booker, Kansas

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LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson

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DL Maason Smith, LSU

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S Cole Bishop, Utah

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OL Dominick Puni, Kansas

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DL McKinnley Jackson, Texas A&M

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WR Jermaine Burton, Alabama

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CB Renardo Green, Florida State

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EDGE Mohamed Kamara, Colorado State

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CB Andru Phillips, Kentucky

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WR Javon Baker, UCF

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EDGE Gabriel Murphy, UCLA

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TE Ben Sinnott, Kansas State

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DL DeWayne Carter, Duke

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Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire