2024 Atlanta Falcons Potential Draft Pick Profile: QB Michael Penix, Jr.

Could the Falcons surprise people and draft a quarterback on day 2 to learn from Cousins?

2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington
2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Falcons have signed Kirk Cousins—a 36-year-old quarterback coming off an Achilles injury. Because of that, they might need to create a long-term plan for quarterback succession. The best quarterback that might fit this is Michael Penix, Jr. The Falcons have shown that they need a great processor who can deliver the ball on-time, in the right spot, and to space for yards after catch. Penix fits this mold to a tee and would be a great understudy long-term for the Falcons.

Michael Penix, Jr.

University of Washington

Quarterback


Athletic Comparison and Numbers

Quarterbacks don't generally test when they are in the top five of their position like Michael Penix is. The Huskies former quarterback doesn't have a ton of mobility on film. However, he has what matters most for a quarterback athletically—a fantastic arm and size for the position in the prototypical range at 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds. He also has large hands at 10 1/2 inches which are the largest in the draft. He surprised everyone when he decided to run and jump at his pro day with excellent results.


Stats and Awards

2023: 15 Games Played, 363-of-555 (65.4 percent), 4,903 Yards, 36 Touchdowns, 11 Interceptions, 35 Carries, 8 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 1 Tackle, Maxwell Award Winner, Heisman Trophy Finalist, Walter Camp Player of the Year Finalist, Davey O'Brien Award Semi-finalist, First-Team All-American, Second-Team All-Pac-12
2022: 13 Games Played, 362-of-554 (65.3 percent), 4,641 Yards, 31 Touchdowns, 8 Interceptions, 35 Carries, 92 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, AP Comeback Player of the Year, Third-Team All-American, Second-Team All-Pac 12, Manning Award Finalist, Davey O'Brien Award Semifinalist, Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll
Transferred from Indiana to Washington between 2021 and 2022.
2021: 5 Games Played, 87-of-162 (53.7 percent), 939 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, 7 Interceptions, 17 Carries, -24 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
2020: 6 Games Played, 124-of-220 (56.4 percent), 1,645 Yards, 14 Touchdowns, 4 Interceptions, 18 Carries, 25 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
2019: 7 Games Played, 110-of-160 (68.8 percent), 1,394 Yards, 10 Touchdowns, 4 Interceptions, 22 Carries, 119 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
2018: 3 Games Played, 21-of-34 (61.8 percent), 219 Yards, 1 Touchdowns, 0 Interceptions, 7 Carries, 45 Yards


Highlight Reel


Scouting Report

Strengths

Michael Penix has an insanely strong arm that can fling it all over the field with a quick release and solid mechanics. He has great pocket presence and doesn't take many sacks at all. He holds onto the ball well and limits his turnovers. His pre-snap and post-snap reads are fantastic, and he's a great processor who finds the open guy quickly. He's a ball-placement specialist for the most part who gives his receivers the ability to adjust to the ball and get yards after the catch while also throwing them into open areas, so they don't take terrible shots.

Weaknesses

Penix is sometimes off with his placement, and it can throw his wide receivers off and force adjustments by them. He tries to throw the ball into tight windows too often and that leads to too many interceptions. He has to fix some of his footwork, but it's nearly there. He also has issues when he's running outside of the pocket with his mechanics.

The biggest issue with Penix is his medicals. He's had four season-ending injuries and making sure he's completely healthy should be the biggest goal for his NFL team.


Intangibles & Off-Field Red Flags

Michael Penix might be one of the best leaders a program will ever see. He's been the captain of his team for each of the last four seasons—two at Washington and two at Indiana. He's exceptional off the field with no arrests and no suspension and has shown that he's a hard worker with his four instances of rehabbing from injuries. The biggest red flag is that he's had four season-ending injuries in college that would potentially be flagged.

NFL Stylistic Comparison: Matt Stafford

Michael Penix has a lot of talent as a passer, and within this offense that Zac Robinson is running for the Falcons in 2024, he looks like a perfect fit. Much like how Matt Stafford took the Rams to the next level. Similar to Stafford, he's not really a dual-threat quarterback. Much like Stafford, he is a pocket passer who is a quick processor with the ability to layer throws. The Falcons would greatly benefit from his abilities for the long term.


How does he fit in with the Atlanta Falcons

If the Falcons want to get Michael Penix on this team, they'll likely have to take him in the top of the second round or even trade up into the back end of the first round. Penix could end up being a steal in the second round if he's available there. Injuries could have him drop on the board, though. The ideal situation for Penix is to sit for a year or two, learn the NFL game, and heal up. This would be exactly what would happen in Atlanta.

Penix would be the perfect long-term franchise quarterback for the Falcons and could continue the same kind of play that is expected of Kirk Cousins. Cousins didn't truly get to start as a franchise quarterback until his fourth season at 27 years old. In this situation, Penix would be 26 or 27 if this plays out the way that it is planned. Atlanta could do the unexpected with Penix, but it would be a brilliant move that would benefit not just the Falcons but Penix for the long term.

All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats. All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of DraftScout.com and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.

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