Why did Falcons draft Michael Penix Jr.? HC Raheem Morris gives clarity on selecting Kirk Cousins' successor in shocker move

Raheem Morris defends Falcons drafting Michael Penix Jr. despite already having Kirk Cousins
Raheem Morris defends Falcons drafting Michael Penix Jr. despite already having Kirk Cousins

Michael Penix Jr. shocked fans on Thursday by being drafted eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons, who already had Pro Bowl veteran Kirk Cousins under a monstrous four-year, $180-million contract.

Many had believed that general manager Terry Fontenot would spend the pick elsewhere. Speaking to the press from the team's training facilities in Flowery Branch, head coach Raheem Morris said:

"Kirk Cousins is our quarterback. We're very excited about Kirk, very excited about this team. (With) Michael Penix we're talking about the future. The draft is you look at the future and you look at big picture."

He even went as far as to reference the Green Bay Packers, who underwent a similar transition from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love during the previous offseason.

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"The Green Bay model was something that we talked about," Morris added. "It's been proven to be right, last year. Hopefully, we'll be right with them."

The Athletic's Dianna Russini, meanwhile, opines that the Falcons have foreseen themselves becoming so successful with Cousins that they will not be picking in the Top 10 over the next few seasons, hence why they drafted their presumptive quarterback of the future:

Three teams wanted to trade up for Michael Penix Jr.

If there were teams that wanted to get their hands on Michael Penix Jr</a>. but failed, it was not for mere lack of trying.

James Palmer, a former reporter for the NFL Network, revealed that three teams had tried to trade into the Top 10 for the Washington Huskies quarterback: the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, and Las Vegas Raiders. Each of these three teams ended up drafting players at other positions, but it is not unreasonable to think they each wanted a quarterback.

The Seahawks have been enjoying a shocking resurgence under Geno Smith lately, posting consecutive 9-8 records and reaching the playoffs once. But he is also pushing 34 and may be facing concerns about his longevity as a top passer in the league.

The Saints, meanwhile, have Derek Carr under a massive contract that he signed in 2023; but his performance during his debut season arguably left much to be desired.

Meanwhile, Raiders had to ditch Jimmy Garoppolo after a PED violation, leading them to pick up surprise Pro Bowler Gardner Minshew, who played for Indianapolis Colts in 2023.

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