Most analysts and fans couldn’t imagine Atlanta taking a quarterback in the first round, let alone a prospect that most mock projections didn’t have as a top-10 pick. But that is what unfolded on the first day of the draft.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. from Washington was the surprise of the draft, being taken by the Falcons in the first round. Penix is coming off a prolific season for the Huskies, throwing for 4,903 yards, 36 touchdowns and completing 65.4% of his passes. His team had a surprising postseason run that finished in the national championship, where they fell to the Michigan Wolverines 34-13.

According to ESPN, Cousins was unaware that Atlanta would take a quarterback with the eighth pick. Individuals close to Cousins were frustrated that the front office did not use the high pick to improve other areas on the roster.

New Falcons coach Raheem Morris expressed disappointment with the draft controversy at his post-draft press conference. “I hate for it to be like the story of the draft. I know it will be. That’s just how our world is based and driven,” Morris said. “It’s what people want to see—it’s piqued more interest.”

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter!

A week of sports news in your in-box.
We find the sports news you need to know, so you don't have to.

Although the pick was shocking, considering Cousins is expected to play very well for the team in 2024, there are some concerns about his health. He is coming off a significant injury he sustained in a game with the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 29, a torn Achilles, which ended his season. He also turns 36 in August, so age and recent injury are valid concerns. It could be the reason for the selection of Penix, to ensure that if something were to happen to Cousins again, a viable backup option would be available. 

The Falcons are coming off a 7-10 campaign in which many expected them to win the weak NFC South. With Cousins, wide receiver Drake London, running back Bijan Robinson, and an underrated defense, Atlanta is again expected to take the next step and make the postseason in 2024.

Penix said he had already spoken to Cousins, and both men were moving on from any draft controversies or conspiracies.

“I’m going to keep it just between me and him right now. It was definitely a good conversation,” Penix told reporters on Friday. I’m super excited to work with him, and he said he’s the same with me.”

Read more about:

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Listen to the uInterview Podcast!
Get the most-revealing celebrity conversations with the uInterview podcast!