Surprise No. 8 pick Michael Penix Jr. wowed Falcons in pre-draft workout

Apr 28, 2024, 7:17 PM

UW Huskies Michael Penix Jr. NFL Draft Atlanta Falcons...

Michael Penix Jr. of the UW Huskies throws a pass against Cal in 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — There’s a reason Atlanta Falcons coach Raheem Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot made a cross-county flight for a personal workout with UW Huskies quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. before the NFL draft.

They wanted to be able to hear Penix’s passes.

Morris, who lined up at linebacker for the Penix workout, said the up-close sounds and sights were impressive, helping convince the Falcons to make the quarterback the No. 8 overall pick on Thursday night. It was perhaps the most unexpected selection of the first round and the highlight of the Falcons’ draft that otherwise emphasized defense.

Stunner! UW Huskies’ Michael Penix Jr. drafted No. 8 by Atlanta

“The whole workout in itself was generally a fun experience to watch him throw, to see his arm talent,” Morris said. “… And to just be the linebacker … I could hear the ball going over the top of my head. It had peak velocity at times and sometimes he was able to lay it over the top of me where I couldn’t get to it.”

The Falcons’ Penix selection was a major surprise one month after signing free agent Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed.

“Here’s one of those times we’ve been able to stump the world and we’ve been talking about it for three days,” Morris said Saturday. “I hate for it to be the story of the draft and I know it will be.”

Morris and Fontenot deflected criticism of the Penix pick by saying they had to seize the opportunity to give the team its future starter. Cousins, rehabbing from an Achilles tendon injury, will be 36 this season.

“It’s a remarkable arm talent when you watch him throw the football or when you hear it,” Morris said of Penix. “And when you stand out there playing linebacker, it’s intimidating.”

Added Fontenot: “That’s why you want to see things in person. … Throwing the ball, the way that thing pops off his hand and the velocity and all those things, seeing it in person does make a difference.”

More on Michael Penix and UW Huskies in NFL Draft

• Why did Atlanta Falcons take Penix when they have Kirk Cousins?
• Rome Odunze drafted No. 9 as UW Huskies go back-to-back
• Troy Fautanu to Steelers, giving UW Huskies 3 1st-rounders in draft
• Caple: A few thoughts on UW Huskies’ big 1st round in NFL Draft
• Kirk Cousins called UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. after surprise pick

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