Ryan Leaf praises the Falcons for drafting QB Michael Penix Jr.

In terms of entertainment value, the 2024 NFL draft lived up to the hype, and then some. The Atlanta Falcons’ selection of Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. at pick No. 8 was undoubtedly the biggest surprise of Round 1.

Not only was Penix taken ahead of Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy, but he went to a team that few expected to draft a quarterback in the first round. This led to many NFL analysts giving Atlanta poor draft grades, primarily criticizing the Penix pick.

However, much of the criticism hasn’t been aimed at Penix but rather the team’s decision to draft a QB after signing Kirk Cousins in free agency. While it isn’t the most conventional version of a succession plan, there’s nothing crazy about investing in the most important position in football.

Former No. 2 overall pick Ryan Leaf was one of the few to praise the selection. Leaf, who had Penix ranked as the No. 1 QB in the class, complimented the Falcons during an appearance on “Up & Adams” with Kay Adams.

“I think he’s the most pro-ready,” Leaf said about Penix. “The fact that he’s going to be able to sit and learn from what is a great veteran quarterback in Kirk Cousins — I thought this was a great move. This was playing chess when others were playing checkers.”

When Leaf was selected one spot after Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL draft, he was forced to step in before he was emotionally ready and never developed into the player many thought he would be. While his career didn’t live up to the hype, Leaf often gives refreshing takes as an analyst.

Watch the full episode of “Up & Adams” featuring Leaf, as shared by the show’s YouTube channel below:

Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire