Falcons select quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in draft stunner after signing Kirk Cousins

The Atlanta Falcons shook things up.

The Falcons, who signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year deal earlier this offseason, selected Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the draft’s first stunner Thursday night.

Cousins is 35 years old and coming off an Achilles tear, so maybe this is a security blanket. But Cousins did sign for $180 million with $100 million guaranteed.


Michael Penix Jr. throws ball

Michael Penix Jr. of the Washington Huskies throws in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2024 CFP national championship game at NRG Stadium Jan. 8, 2024, in Houston.  (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

It’s a stunner considering just about every expert had Penix as the fifth quarterback being taken. Instead, he was the fourth, and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy remains available.

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. 

Michael Penix Jr. attempts a pass

Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. throws an interception during the CFP national championship game against the Michigan Wolverines Jan. 8, 2024, at NRG Stadium in Houston.  (David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

That performance probably hurt his stock. He completed 27 of his 51 passes for 255 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Michael Penix Jr gestures to the crowd

Michael Penix Jr. of the Washington Huskies celebrates after a 37-31 victory against the Texas Longhorns in the CFP semifinal Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome Jan. 1, 2024, in New Orleans. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)


Penix, who will soon turn 24, also has an injury history before even taking an NFL snap. 

He’s torn his right ACL twice, once in 2018 and once in 2020 with Indiana, and he had a clavicle fracture in 2019 and an A/C joint separation in 2021.

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

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