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Super Bowl-winning quarterback explains why Falcons drafting Michael Penix Jr was ‘brilliant’

Of all the teams inside the top-15 of the NFL Draft order, the Atlanta Falcons were certainly one that not many people were predicting would pick a quarterback.

Well, they shocked just about everybody when they selected Michael Penix Jr. out of Washington with the eighth overall pick.

Of course, the Falcons entered the offseason with a hole at quarterback, but they gave Kirk Cousins a four-year deal with $180 million – $100 million of that is guaranteed, but all in the first two years.

So, while the Falcons have been criticized for the move, Super Bowl winner Trent Dilfer is on the totally other side.

Penix will, of course, be backing up Cousins for a long while, but Dilfer is seeing a Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers-Jordan Love plan.

“[Cousins] is going to play as good of football he can play for as long as his body allows him to play. And while he does that, you will not find a better human to help Michael Penix grow as a person, as a player. Every time the Packers did this, every time people said this was stupid… I think it’s one of the best models in all of football,” Dilfer told OutKick’s “Hot Mic” earlier this week.

“The Falcons are looking three, four, five, six, seven years down the line here, they’re looking to become Super Bowl contenders for a decade, not just change their franchise now. And because of that, I think it was a really good pick.”

Michael Penix Jr. attempts a pass


Dilfer sees parts of Penix’s game that need improvement, and Cousins is the one to help Penix grow into a more mature quarterback, he says.

“I think Michael is a guy that is wildly talented, wildly successful, but does not play the game with a high level of discipline. He doesn’t play it with a structure, he’s more of a gunslinger, and Kirk Cousins plays the game with an exactness to his game. And he’s gonna watch Kirk play at a very high level for Atlanta and learn the tricks of the trade, the nuances of the position… My career would have been totally different if I would’ve sat there and played with an expert in his craft and learn all the tricks of the trade from somebody like that. I’m probably an outlier here, but I think it was a brilliant pick.”

The Athletic reported that Cousins “understood” that a quarterback would be considered, but he did not believe his potential successor would be taken in the first round – thus, the Penix selection left him “stunned.”

It is ironic that the Falcons took Penix as Cousins recovers from his own serious injury (a torn Achilles). Penix has torn his right ACL twice, once in 2018 and again in 2020 with Indiana, and he had a clavicle fracture in 2019 and an A/C joint separation in 2021.

Michael Penix Jr shows his jersey

Last season, Washington’s reign over the Pac-12 continued. Penix threw for 4,903 yards with 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His efforts with a high-octane offense led to a national championship appearance, though Michigan defeated Washington. 

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

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