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2024 NFL Draft Grades: Falcons deliver a stunner by Michael Penix Jr. at number 8 behind Kirk Cousins

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The Atlanta Falcons shocked the NFL world at No. 8 overall by signing former Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to select. The Falcons signed former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​to a four-year deal worth $180 million in free agency, but at age 35 and coming off a torn Achilles tendon, you have to wonder how many years he has left has. Now Atlanta has Cousins' eventual replacement.

Penix was one of the more mysterious quarterbacks in this class just because the range of where he was expected to come off the board was so wide. Some had him as a possible top-10 selection, while others wondered if he would even come off the board in the first round. Some of that was due to two ACL tears Penix suffered during his time in Indiana. What isn't in question, however, is his arm talent. Penix is ​​said to have one of the better deep balls of any quarterback in his class, and that was on full display in Washington.

After transferring from Indiana, Penix took the college football world by storm with the Huskies. In 2022, he was the FBS leader in passing yards, which helped win the Maxwell Award. He followed that up with a 2023 in which he led Washington to a 13-0 regular season, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting after leading the NCAA in passing yards. The first-team All-American helped take Washington to the College Football Playoff National Championship game, but fell to Michigan. In his final collegiate season, Penix threw for 4,903 yards and 36 touchdowns.

Here's what the Falcons are getting in Penix, including his scouting report, pro comparison, career accolades, fantasy fit and overall NFL prospects.

“They chose to take the quarterback of the future by taking Penix. He has all the tools, but will learn and wait behind Kirk Cousins. I wonder if he can rush the passer. Just like the player, but he keeps not of choice.” ” –Pete Prisco

Join us for live 2024 NFL Draft analysis from CBS Sports and an update NFL Draft Tracker. Also check out Pete Prisco's NFL Draft grades for each first-round pick and subscribe to the “With the first choice” podcast for nightly recaps, winners and losers and more from Detroit.

Analysis is yet to come

Dynasty twist

Analysis is yet to come

Michael Penix Jr. NFL Draft prospect profile

  • Age from week 1: 24 years old
  • Height: 6-foot-3
  • Weight: 218
  • Hand Size: 10 1/2 inches

Similar body type: Jimmy Garoppolo

CBS Sports Prospects Rankings

Position: No. 5 QB | General: No. 30 | Judgement: 88.43 (high level starter)

NFL Comparison: Jordan Love

Penix has a lot of traits that we can compare to a lot of players, but I felt like if we take away the injury concerns, he is the closest to Jordan Love. Both have good arm strength, both aren't afraid of pass rush pressure, both will challenge downfield, both rely completely on their receivers in tight coverage, and both have good mobility without having to rely on rushing often. Love needed time to learn how to go through his reads and process defensive coverage; Penix could be ahead of where Love was when he was a candidate. Hopefully both can eventually overcome their high off-target throwing percentages (Love has made progress in that area this season).

Scouting report

NFL decision makers have a wide range of opinions on Michael Penix Jr.'s abilities; some like him in Round 1, while others think he's a Day 3 target. It's hard to argue that he's the best deep ball thrower in this draft class, and he comes into the league with a ton of experience.

Accolades

  • 2023: Heisman Trophy runner-up (best finish in Washington history)
  • 2022–2023: Most pass yards (9,544) in a two-year span in Pac-12 history

Strengths

  • Best deep ball thrower in this class
  • Throws with anticipation on intermediate routes
  • Very good at getting the ball into position to maximize YAC

Weak points

  • Injury history will be a concern for many NFL teams
  • Can he consistently throw the ball accurately over the middle of the field on intermediate routes?

Breakdown of college statistics

2023 15 65.4% 4903 8.8 36 11 36 8 0.2 3
2023 vs. top-25 teams 7 61.9% 2056 7.8 14 5 22 21 1.0 3
Career at UW 28 65.4% 9544 8.6 67 19 71 100 1.4 7

CBS Sports Fantasy takes a closer look Michael Penix Jr. as a draft prospect.

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