Falcons’ bold decision to draft QB Michael Penix could pay off

The Atlanta Falcons have had four straight top-10 picks, and they don’t want to be picking that high again anytime soon. That was the team’s thought process when they selected quarterback Michael Penix in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft despite signing Kirk Cousins to a monster contract in free agency.

“We’re going to build a sustained winner,” said Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot following Day 1 of the draft. “We’re gonna win for a long time. That’s the most important position in football.”

Atlanta wants to win both now and later, and rather than reaching for a need, the team took a potential franchise quarterback and put him in a position to be successful whenever he takes over.

“If you believe in a quarterback, you have to take him,” said Fontenot. “And if he sits for four or five years, that’s a great problem to have because we’re doing so well at that position. So it’s just as simple as, if you see a guy that you believe in at that position, you have to take them.”

If you take the positional need out of the equation, Penix is an extremely exciting prospect with a ton of upside. His arm strength is incredible, he gets the ball to his playmakers and he’s battled adversity with multiple serious injuries.

For a team like Atlanta that experienced over a decade of consistent quarterback play, the last two seasons have been a harsh reminder of just how tough it is to win without a top QB under center. The lack of a succession plan behind Matt Ryan likely cost this team two playoff berths.

So even with Cousins set to lead this team in the present, the Falcons didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on the future when they had the chance.

Teams like the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens have had success with this model in recent years. The Packers took Aaron Rodgers when they still had Brett Favre, and then drafted Jordan Love as Rodgers’ eventual successor.

Taking Penix is obviously a gamble, but if it works out, it could pay off over the next 15 years. “When he was sitting there staring at us at eight, we weren’t gonna pass it up,” concluded Fontenot.

Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire