He's the Big Stunner of the NFL Draft

Falcons use No. 8 pick for QB Michael Penix Jr., soon after signing veteran Kirk Cousins to a huge deal
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2024 8:50 AM CDT
He's the Biggest Surprise of the NFL Draft
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. looks to throw during the team's NFL pro day Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Seattle.   (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

When the Chicago Bears picked QB Caleb Williams first in the NFL draft, they surprised no one. When the Atlanta Falcons picked QB Michael Penix Jr. eighth in the draft, they seemed to have surprised everyone. It's going down as the stunner of the night, as sportswriters scratch their heads given the circumstances:

  • In March, the Falcons signed 36-year-old quarterback Kirk Cousins to a massive $180 million contract over four years, notes CNN. Most mock drafts had the team trying to shore up defensive weaknesses.
  • "So is Penix insurance? An insurance QB in the top 10?? What are we doing here? I won't get over this," writes Chris Branch at the Athletic.

  • Cousins' camp doesn't sound thrilled. "Yes, it was a big surprise," says his agent, Mike McCartney, per NFL.com. "We had no idea this was coming. The truth is the whole league had no idea this was coming. We got no heads up."
  • Nobody is putting this on 23-year-old Penix, a star at Washington. But "you don't take him eighth overall when you have positions of need on a team that's trying to win the NFC South next year," writes blogger Big Tennessee at Barstool Sports. Also, the Falcons "could have traded down and gotten him 10 picks later. This is madness."
  • CNN notes the Packers drafted QB Jordan Love in 2020 even though they had Aaron Rodgers, and the move appeared to motivate the veteran, who then won back-to-back MVP awards. And when Rodgers left before last season, Love stepped in seamlessly.
(More NFL draft stories.)

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